Meet Dan Pavatich, Artistic Director, LMA Melbourne

Dan Pavatich is an Australian comedy legend, an extremely well rounded improvisor, and overall, a lovely – and funny – fella. He’s been actively involved with the improv scene in Melbourne for under a decade and has developed comedy shows, worked and toured as a performer, and helped launch The Improv Conspiracy. We are thrilled to announce that Dan will be joining the LMA Team in Term 3, 2016 as Melbourne’s first Artistic Director. We recently sat down with him to get a broad sense of his background in improv and his vision for LMA moving forward. Please welcome… Mr. Dan Pavatich!
How did you discover improv and what effect has it had on your life?
I used to watch “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” on TV as a kid, and loved it. Cut to 20 years later and I’m in a job that’s driving me nuts and offers no creative outlet. So I google “Improvisation” and take the first class that shows up, and fall in love with the work and the people.
Where have you trained outside of Australia? What are 3 of the biggest learnings you took from those schools?
 iO Chicago –
  • This is theatre. And you’re an actor.
  • It’s our emotions that let people know who we are.
  • You will forever be a student of improvisation.
The Annoyance Theatre –
  • You look after your scene partner by making strong choices and playing them.
  • Make a strong character choice at the top; don’t wait for inspiration to suddenly strike you.
  • Hold onto your shit.
Second City Chicago –
  • Do your best to see the unexpected as “opportunities for what could be” rather than “interruptions to what should have been.”
  • An audience should be able to enjoy an Improv show, without needing to take a class first.
  • (Specifically sketch) we achieve quality through quantity. Write a lot!
What are your observations about the improv scene in the USA vs. in Australia?
This is a great time for Australia, we have a critical mass of schools in Long Form that we can take the best of the US, and make Improvisation our own. We’re still finding our identity, and that’s great for the students coming through now.
Describe your vision for LMA – Where will the school be in five years? What do you want LMA to be known for?
My vision for LMA is that continue to be known as the school that helps performers and comedians find their voice, as well as giving them the tools and experience they need to create great work – no matter what the medium.
My dream is that one day someone will approach me and say: “When I think about all the LMA students I’ve come across, I’ve never met two that play exactly the same, and I’ve never met one I didn’t enjoy watching.”
Five years from now? LMA Mars – If Elon Musk can get back on schedule!
What are your Top 3 Goals for the school in 2016?
1. Work with our impressive roster of local and international Teachers to further develop the Improvisation and Sketch curriculum.
2. Roll out a clear and consistent curriculum across both Melbourne and Sydney.
3. Identify what’s needed next in terms of curriculum, electives and performance opportunities to take our students to the next level, and beyond.
LMA’s Sketch Comedy program is blossoming in Sydney and will kick off in Melbourne later this year. Describe how the two forms differ.
A good sketch is a written, planned, and hopefully, funny performance for an audience. Good improv is spontaneous theatre, created between one or more performers with their audience.
For readers who are new to improv, describe the fundamental differences between “Short Form” and “Long Form.”
“Long Form” resembles a play or comedy show; improvisers play a variety of characters and scenes, which make up the show. “Short Form” is made up of a series of games and scenes (with constraints) that improvisors play without any requirement for these games and scenes to be connected in any way.
What would you say to people who are interested in improv classes, but are nervous, or afraid about having to perform or be funny?
There’s a magical place where everything that makes you different, is your power. And there’s a welcoming group of people there, who want to support you, your ideas and your individuality and watch you shine. And that place is an improv class.
P.S. You don’t have to be funny, you just have to be you.
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