“Ruth Zaporah dives lyrically into our subtle inner worlds, showing us how improvising onstage is as deep and spontaneous as living at its best. For ‘impro- vising,’ read ‘living fully in the moment.’ Everyone needs to absorb this book.”
—Jean-Claude van Itallie, playwright, performer, and teacher
“Improvisation on the Edge is an instant classic in the still meager literature of improvisation. In a series of short chapters, legendary performer and teacher Ruth Zaporah shares some of the hard-earned lessons and practical wisdom she has gained from a lifetime spent on the cutting edge of creativity. Recounting stories of her travels, her collaborators, and her performances, Zaporah allows us a glimpse into what drives the fearlessness and rigor of her Action Theater form. Improvisation on the Edge is a master class for performers in any genre, a love letter to improvisation and the human creative drive, and an eloquent examination of the ways in which improvising and living become indistinguishable to those brave enough to become fully aware in the now.”—Kent De Spain, author of Landscape of the Now: A Topography of Movement Improvisation
“In the forty years since she invented Action Theater, Ruth Zaporah has navigated the invisible and revolutionized the art of performance. Her art takes improvisation into the vast dimension beyond biography, beyond psy- chology, beyond thinking, beyond calculation, to allow performer and audi- ence to experience real things happening, to live the absolute moment. Part shaman, part disrupter, star, sage, and teacher, she has evolved a strict system of preparation that conditions body, voice, and soul for whatever comes up. I went to her to shake my writing free of all the selfs—self-criticism, self- consciousness, self-regard, ego. She gave my writing freedom, and she freed me to perform. This remarkable, moving, and profound book is the map of her journey, and the door into another world.”—Joan Juliet Buck, writer, editor, and actor
“These tales invigorate and inspire like a cup of strong black coffee. Ruth weaves word spells so we suddenly are traveling with her back and forth between our wild imagination and this relative world, and to Croatia and Yugoslavia.
“If you are a theater maker, read this. If you improvise, read this. If you teach creative process, read this and share it with your students. Wondrous stories from a powerful and tender woman artist, teacher, meditator, and embodied improvisator.
“We are caught by surprise, comforted by the familiar, and filled with gratitude as Ruth unfolds the mystery of the ‘inside of things.’ In front of us is an open field. A wild wood surrounds it. Everything we find out there folds into our spontaneous improvisation. The characters we inhabit are fully human yet are fluid and magical.
“Truly a gift to the next generation; to teachers and performers and artists. So many ecstatic declarations of having this body, right here, right now. Relish these tales of the inventive glory in teaching embodied improvisation then ponder the questions between teacher and student.”—Barbara Dilley, professor of contemporary performance at Naropa University, contemplative arts practitioner, and author of Teaching Thinking Dancing
“Ruth Zaporah has truly loved her art, listened to it, been surprised by it, submitted to its demands, followed it faithfully, and through this deep prac- tice has gained a profound mastery of creative work and of life. She has developed improvisation as a true form of Zen—the white space of the stage meets the open mind of the meditator. Embodied presence as Ruth shows it is an important doorway to understanding what it’s all really about. Reading Ruth’s book is exhilarating and encouraging for anyone wanting to live a genuine and creative life; it makes me glad to be alive.”—John Tarrant, author of The Light Inside the Dark— Zen, Soul, and the Spiritual Life