Improv skills lead to success

Posts Tagged ‘significant objects

Full Review of Significant Objects

leave a comment »

I mentioned the book Significant Objects a couple of days ago. If you’re interested in the book, and I hope you are, you can read the full review I just published on Technology and Society Book Reviews. I’ve run that site since 1998, which is eons ago in internet time.

Here’s the first paragraph of my piece:

Every now and then you read a book that causes you to think “Man, that was great! I should do a project just like it!” Then you sit back and realize the project’s creators had a brilliant idea, invested the time and effort to realize it, and that your attempt would be at best an homage and at worst a poorly executed rip-off of someone else’s concept.

You can find the full review at

Written by curtisfrye

July 29, 2012 at 1:19 am

Significant Objects and Events

leave a comment »

I have one more post to go in my listening series but I had to tell you about the book Significant Objects, just published by Fantagraphics. The idea behind the project was to sell 100 mudane items such as ashtrays and gold-colored rabbit candles on eBay. The twist was that the item description was actually a short-short fiction piece by professional writers such as Meg Cabot, William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, and Scarlett Thomas.

So how much value did the stories, which were clearly labeled as fiction, add to the items? The items cost an average of $1.25 to acquire and sold for a total of nearly $8,000. That’s a profit of about $7,875, or over 6,000 times acquisition cost.

When I was young, I heard a story about an auction where the auctioneer was having a hard time getting anyone to bid on a guitar. One of his assistants picked up the guitar and played a beautiful song, causing the price to go through the roof when the bidders realized the object’s potential. That story is probably apocryphal, but the lesson remains: you make something significant by how you relate to it, whether by making music or writing a story about it.

As improvisers, we use our audience members’ suggestions to create our work. We have a duty to them to make their contributions significant by honoring what they gave us, especially if we’re replaying their day or referring to an important event in their life. Remember also that we can do harm. It’s one thing to show how a person’s day could go wrong, but it’s another to dismiss what they’ve said or done.

Keep your audience’s needs at the forefront of everything you do. After all, they’re the most important group in the theatre.

Written by curtisfrye

July 22, 2012 at 1:27 am