Foreword to Ira's book – extract
A MASTER OF HIS ART
The first time I met Ira was in spring 2008 at La Fourmi, a café situated right on the edge of Montmartre and the more mainstream ninth arrondissement of Paris. We had e-mailed briefly the day before. I was curious about what he had suggested to us, the Improfessionals, the improvisational theatre company I was part of: a potpourri of workshops on physical acting, slapstick and clown.
I hardly knew anything about either of those things then. But there was something about the way he presented his work on his web site that intrigued me. It was very upfront. Not someone trying to sell himself. Here was real intellectual and thought provoking content clearly based on a long and varied career.
Within a minute from sitting down with Ira at our table I had a strong impression that I was in front of a man who really knew what he was talking about. Like for real. And those are two words that are worth emphasizing when it comes to Ira and his work: for real.
I can not remember what we talked about. He most certainly asked me more questions than I asked of him. We must have talked about improvisation. I thought I knew something about it. Which I did. But a week or so later, after a first introductory workshop with Ira, I clearly understood that knowing about something is not at all the same as knowing it.
In that short three-hour session my mind reached down and touched base. It was like standing on solid ground after being at sea. I finally knew what improvisation was. Ira spelled it out: make a pause, and in that pause there is a binary choice. Either continue what you were doing or make an adjustment. It's one or the other.
That blew my mind. It was so incredibly simple and obvious. No one else had told me that before. None of the acting or improvisation teachers I had met. Nor was it written in any of the many books on improvisational theatre I had read. I surmised that either they did not know it or they did not care to explain it – and I did not know which was worse.
At any rate, I knew for sure that this Ira Seidenstein knew something fundamental. I felt certain that he was teaching us something he really knew. There was no pretending. No mystification. No paradoxical teaching. No bullshit. Here was someone who laid all the cards on the table right from the start. Someone who cared about what was true. Here was someone I could trust.
Written by Caspar Schjelbred
Paris/Malmö, August 27-28 2018
Pour plus d'information sur Ira Seidenstein : www.iraseid.com