Ten thousand hours.
In the book "Outliers: The story of Success", [http://amzn.to/1ammukY] Malcom Gladwell suggests that it takes 10,000 hours to gain mastery in a thing. When I look at my life there are only a couple of things to which I have given that much attention, and improvisational theatre is one of them.
There are 8766-ish hours in a year, but you have to sleep, which puts you approximately in the 6500 range. I haven't been doing it exclusively (I've worked full time during the majority of the duration) so that gives me about 4600 hours a year to dedicate to the craft of theatre, barring all other endeavors. That's.... a lot. A lot to think about, a lot of wasted hours on TV and screen time and a myriad of other things that weren't at all related to any of my goals. It's also a lot of hours that I have spent on family and relationships and other, good things in my world.
Let's take a step back and turn that around. I stepped onto the stage for the first time in early 1992 and have never really stepped off. That's twenty two years. To make my 10000 hours I really only need to put in about 460 hours a year; ten hours a week to be safe. That number seems much more reasonable at that point. So yeah, that makes me a master, right?
I know that I think about improv well. That is to say that when watching it, I can dissect and categorize; when explaining it, I can find the metaphor or exercise that educates or demystifies; when doing it...yeah, the "doing it" thing.
The problem, of course, is that a large portion of my 10k hours has been spent teaching, coaching and directing improv, so of course, this is how I think about it. Performance opportunities are fewer than coaching opportunities when you travel as much as I do with a hectic schedule, and while I certainly do jump on the stage whenever I'm invited, it is difficult to set up gigs or to build trust with new groups in the short amounts of time I am in any one place.
So here's to it. This is the year of performance. Who wants to play?