HONESTY IS THE BEST IMAGE
Zlatin Tsvetkov is a professional actor. He has graduated some of the most prestigious improvisational theatre schools iO Theatre and The Annoyance Theater in Chicago, he finished a course on musical improvisation with “The Showstoppers”, London – winners of the “Olivier” award for an improvised musical, staged in West End. He is among the creators of improvisational theatre in Bulgaria and is currently running a training center with over 120 students, a club stage and a theatre stage. He organizes an annual improvisational theatre festival, does corporate trainings, and hosts different ceremonies and events.
We met in the small, picturesque town of Dobrinishte, during the “Storify Yourself! Youth Worker as a Brand” TC. Zlatin worked tirelessly with the participants, teaching them how to apply techniques from improvisational theatre to storytelling. This interview was conducted after his second day as a coach in the training program. He kindly agreed to share some insights and helpful tips about improvisation, collaboration and creating an impactful story, so they can reach and help more people.
An interview by Plamena Petrova.
What makes a story impactful?
Different things for different people. My personal favorite, that brings people together, would be honesty. Emotional honesty. Deep honesty. I think the level of honesty, with which the story is told, can be very effective in bringing people together. At least the people, who have felt these emotions in this truthfulness, could connect to the story. Basically, if somebody feels something, when they read a story – or see a story, whatever the media is – whenever they feel something, that means they have been impacted. We only have a certain limited set of emotions. Sometimes we feel them very powerfully. Those triggers that bring this emotion forward and the way that it’s shared with other people can be very, very impactful. If we’re true to ourselves and we have experienced this truthfulness.
How does improv theatre improve storytelling?
Well, improvisers work together collaboratively. That’s one thing – it always improves collaborative efforts. Collaborativeness can improve anything in life, in general. But we are collaborative storytellers, in a way. We create the characters that we perform on the spot, being inspired by each other. So improv theatre is great in making you notice what is happening with the other person, making you more empathetic towards life and towards other people. It helps with being positive and having a nonjudgmental attitude towards other people. So it helps you connect to other people – to share. It makes you a better listener and a better sponge for other people’s emotions. It makes you more observant of your own emotions, as well. It makes you feel confident. So it helps with insecurities like: “Will it go great? What will happen?” by making you confident that what is present is enough. I can amplify what is present – make it more, more, more, more – bit by bit, with little steps. I can give the names of things that are present, be honest about my interpretation of the present. And that could be enough, if done honestly and created truthfully.
Following that train of thought, what changes do you see in people after an improv training? Anything else that changes in them?
I feel people are more open. Most of the feedback I get is like: “I connect with others more easily”, because there’s this “I am enough” thing. “My input is enough. What I am, my obvious is enough”. So usually people say: “I’m more open to people. I share more with people. I present more to people. I’m okay standing in front of people”. Yeah, “It’s easier to date”, ha-ha-ha. Yeah, cause dating – you know – is also something like that. Sometimes it can become ‘my image against your image’ and honesty is the best image.
That’s actually very interesting, thank you! And what advice do you have for someone, who’s just getting into storytelling?
Read a lot, because there’s so many things, that have been done and so many structures – so many ways of doing it. I’m a big fan of having a lot of information and in a way, reading is also emotional information. Have a lot of mediums – be a sponge. When you have seen a lot of things and you have experienced a lot of things, think about how your life connects to that – how do you connect to that? What’s your point of view? What do you want to share with other people? What’s honest about you and your personal way of thinking and of seeing life? Find something you’re so passionate about, that you cannot hold in yourself and you want to share. Then, if you want, study structure. But know that you are enough. It doesn’t need to be much more than finding your own voice. The destination, the direction – in all artistic endeavors – is inwards. How can I be more honest, more truthful, more me – more my own voice? Trusting your own voice is enough and you don’t need to be ‘more’ than that.
Okay, so turn inward, be honest, and find an emotion. Is there anything else that a person has to work on in themselves, to become a better storyteller?
Do. Write more. See more. Do more. Do more of what you want to do. In order to find how to do things, you need to repeat and repeat, and repeat, and repeat. Don’t give up – mistakes are gifts! You can do something so many times and every time you do it, it’s better.
This post is also available in: Български