How Would You Describe “Divine Play”?


What makes you smile inside and out?

  • Making sweet cooing noises and having a baby smile back at you?
  • Watching baby goats do their little jumping thing?
  • Seeing a dog on the beach throw a ball at her owner and prancing around insistently until he throws it?
  • Buying a gift for a dear friend that you KNOW she will love and then giving it to her?

These moments of joy are sacred, don’t you think?  Somehow we feel safe, trusting, and loved in them. I wonder if we are tapping into the divinity of the human spirit.  Something that is always there, but may be elusive at times.  It sure feels good!  We need to play and have an innate ability to.

Play, or Divine Play as we like to call it, is part of PILL improv.

Watch the facial expressions of Jody and Glenna as they play this very easy activity called ‘Same-Time-Story” And also watch the people watching them.  The delight is almost palpable.  

At PILL we make it a priority to create a safe environment for divine play and the community is incredibly supportive.  You don’t need to be an actor to play! Check out our classes or email your questions:

If performing isn’t the goal of PILL improv, what is?

By Dwyer Leahy Vessey

Sometimes when I mention I’m going to Improv I get asked if I want to learn to “perform” improv…and I say – Improv is one of the only times that I don’t feel like I have to perform…I get to play.

And then I say “improv is like when you were a little kid and and you went outside to play with a friend and then another friend came by and the game changed into something new and then more kids showed up and you played outside until your mother whistled you home…that’s improv.”

If your curious to know what taking a PILL class is like, check out this slide show of a recent class. It might be hard to tell WHAT we are doing, but notice how much FUN we’re having doing it!

Check out this single session at York Adult & Community Education.


What’s the difference between PILL improv on the seacoast & Medical Improv?

I’ve been taking improv classes for over a decade.  Partly for fun and partly for personal growth. I’ve learned how to be more assertive, listen better, and even take more risk in social situations.  I’m still learning!

I’ve been teaching communication and related skills to nurses for even longer.  I began to include improv activities in my teaching because I could see what an effective and fun way it was to learn the skills.  Some of the Medical Improv workshops I teach are listed here.

In healthcare, interpersonal skills are critical to providing safe, compassionate care.  They are also critical for the health and wellbeing of nurses, doctors and others who work in the healthcare system.  Some people are surprised to hear about the prevalence of problems like medical errors, poor patient experiences, and injuries or burnout among healthcare workers.  Sadly, they are huge problems and often linked to poor communication.  You can read more about these serious issues and their connection to communication skills here.   When I teach improv to healthcare professionals, there is an emphasis on these issues.

Under the umbrella of PILL- Portsmouth Improv Learning Lab, there are entry-level and advanced classes and you don’t have to be an actor or healthcare professional to take them. We have a lot of fun and many of the activities are quite simple, once you get the hang of a few principles.

Most classes are once a week for several weeks and next week York Adult and Community Education is sponsoring a single class on 3/13 at York Middle School.  This could be a great way for people who are considering a PILL class, but hesitant to sign up for several weeks.  If you’re interested, we’d love to have you. And if you have questions please send me an email or call 603-205-3509.

Glorious Ladies of PILL Spreading Light & Laughter at Seacoast FUNdraiser!

At a recent “Superhero”  fundraising party, (Seacoast woman runs for the homeless), several glorious women from Portsmouth Improv Learning Lab-PILL showed up at Jubilation Dance Studio to do a little improv!

And thankfully, one of the audience members took a couple of videos!  (THANKS, HAYDEN!)

Here are a couple of videos that will make you smile.  And you can still donate!

First, “Bus Stop” and then “Doctor’s Office”!

Can you sense divine play among us?

Oh and just so you know, we don’t generally dress up as Superheros for PILL Classes AND if you wanted that would be fine!

Improv as Sacred Space for Seeking Growth & Freedom!

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.  

-Viktor Frankl, Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist,  Holocaust survivor, and author of “Man’s Search for Meaning”.

This quote speaks to the sacred space for divine play that emerges when improv activities are taught with an emphasis on the process. (Unlike improv comedy, where the emphasis is on the performance.)

In the simple, yet often profound activity called, “The Gift”  one person gives an invisible present to another and it is the other person who defines what the gift is.  For example, let’s say my partner in this activity is Liz Korabek-Emerson, (we co-teach unique classes in mindfulness and improv called Stronger Together and you might see us around town putting up posters for PILL classes).

In this activity Liz would reach out to me with a knowing smile and say something like, “Beth, I have something for you”.  And I would have a knowing smile back to her as I await the gift. We don’t know what the gift is, but we do know that I will think of something and she will support me. It is a rich moment of trust, creativity, and divine play. For me, this IS growth and freedom!

And truth be told, IN that moment, I might feel anxious and uncertain. Okay, I would feel a little anxious, I’m pretty sure.  Because  in my mind or the ego part of my mind, there lies the possibility of rejection or failure.  Yet those worries are fleeting because no matter what I say,

Oh Liz, thank you for this spoonful of dirt

Oh Liz, thank you for this diamond necklace

Oh Liz, thank you for this cup of delicious coffee

…no matter what I say, Liz is going to support me. A sacred space for divine play emerges when improv activities are taught with an emphasis on the process! Click To Tweet

You are so welcome, Beth.  I thought this spoonful of dirt from my garden would help you start your indoor herbs.

You are so welcome, Beth. When I saw the necklace I thought how beautiful it would look on you.

You are so welcome, Beth. I thought a nice fresh cup of coffee would taste good to you right now.

I am supported, safe and even loved.  WOW, right?

And if you were in this PILL improv class watching, you might feel the beauty of this moment and take joy in whatever we say, because somehow you are with us in this sacred space.  It is indeed, divine play!

If this sounds like fun and you want to get a taste of improv taught this way, check out the Improv for Everyone (single sessions), Discover PILL, and Stronger Together classes coming up soon.  Or if you are interested in the world of Medical Improv check out latest Who, What & Where!

MORE Fantastic Raffle Prizes from Mostly Seacoast Businesses for this FUNdraising Party 2/24 in Portsmouth


2/24/18 from 5:30-8p at Jubilation Dance Studio

Suggested donation $10!

Last week we published a list of SOME of the fantastic raffle prizes you can win ifyou come to the fundraising party that local Social Worker, Lori Austin is hosting.  She is working to raise money for Back on My Feet (a cool project that helps people who struggle with homelessness.)

She’ll be there and ready to answer any questions, like;

Who is Lightening Larry?

In the meantime, here’s a link to the party flyer and scroll down for MORE

fabulous prizes you can win.

Art piece donated by Amy Kelly, lobsterwoman/artist, Tailspinstudio

Beauty Basket donated by Kristen Moisen from Ciccolini Salon

Music Hall tickets

Serendipity jewelry item

Tuscan Kitchen 2 $50 gift certificates

Runners Alley gift card

Life is Good $76 worth of merchandise

Kazimierz European Market gift basket

Union Bluff $50 gift card

Vdogg Airport shuttle service- free ride to and from airport

My Thirty-one Bag donation by AnnMarie Plante

And coffee to be provided by New Moon Coffee Roasters of New Hampshire!

Doesn’t  the Seacoast ROCK?

PILL-Portsmouth Improv Learning Lab will be doing some improv and I am seriously considering dressing as Tracey Turnblad (Hairspray Heroine) who, IMHO, is definitely a Super Hero!

Now do you want to check out the party?

Hope to see you there and as soon as I get updated list of donations, I’ll post Part II.

If you have questions about the party, contact Lori Austin!

P.S. If you can’t make the party and want to donate.

Loved Krista Tippett’s Interview w/ Brene Brown

Courage is contagious. Every time we choose courage, we make everyone around us a little better and the world a little braver. . –Brene Brown

If you liked Brene Brown’s well-known TED Talk on vulnerability you will probably like her new book, “Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone”.  It is a great book and speaks to the sometimes daunting, yet very worth it pursuit of authenticity.

I enjoy many of the guests on Tippett’s On Being Podcast series and this one with Brene Brown is exceptionally good.  I listen to the unedited version and loved hearing these two very smart women discuss personal growth, human behavior, and spirituality.

Here’s a quick excerpt to tempt you.

Ms. Tippett: You make this — just the way you make this observation — I think the way you make it is so helpful. You said, “It’s partly because we are neuro-biologically hardwired for belonging and connection. We’re hardwired to want it, and need it so much, that the first thing we do is sacrifice ourselves and who we are to achieve it.

Ms. Brown: The irony, right? Yeah, we’re desperate for it. I think if you look at — if you look from the lens of neuro-biology or even evolutionary biology: as a social species, to not be wanted and to not belong to the tribe or the clan or the group meant death. We are wired for this. It is — John Cacioppo of the University of Chicago, who does this incredible work on loneliness, says that the only real biological advantage we have over most other species is our connection, our belonging; our ability to collaborate, plan, be in relationship with in special ways. And so that desperate need to belong is not a neurosis; or it’s not an ego-driven thing. That need to belong and be a part of something greater than us is who we are in our DNA.

Ms. Tippett: I love that also, in fact, the genius — the source of the genius of our species — that’s the implication of it.

Ms. Brown: That’s it. It is. Yet what we do to ensure that we’re accepted and fit in ensures that we have no sense of belonging.

Ms. Tippett: So you use this language of “true belonging.” So talk about what are the qualities of true belonging, as opposed to those many things we do that feel like belonging but, as you say, are a hollow substitute for true belonging. What is that?

Let me know if you listen and what you think!

This FUNdraising Party Has So Many Raffle Prizes from Seacoast Businesses that…

…we need to make 2 blogposts out of it!!!  This is Part I!

Wait, what?

Fundraising for? 

People who struggle with Homelessness


2/24/18 from 5:30-8p at Jubilation Dance Studio

Learn about the party here or scroll down to see all the prizes you can win.

The Beach Plum$25 Gift Card

Colby’s Breakfast & Lunch – Breakfast for Two Gift Certificate

Bob’s Clam Hut – $25 Gift Card

When Pigs Fly Pizzeria– $25 Gift Card

Dinnerhorn/Bratskeller – $25 Gift Certificate

The Kitchen Eatery & Catering – $25 Gift Card

Love Your Melons – 2 Hats! (Ok not the seacoast so much, but still very cool!)

Bowl-O-Rama – Free Bowling for 4

Cinemagic Movie Theater – $25 Gift Card

Doesn’t  the Seacoast ROCK?

PILL-Portsmouth Improv Learning Lab will be doing some improv and I am seriously considering dressing as Tracey Turnblad who, IMHO, is definitely a Super Hero!  

Now do you want to check out the party?

Hope to see you there and as soon as I get updated list of donations, I’ll post Part II.

If you have questions about the party, contact Lori Austin!

P.S. If you can’t make the party and want to donate.

New in Town Seacoast Transplant Meetup Group Had a FUN PILL Improv Night!

If you think improv games are just for actors, guess again!  On 2/2/18 ten people from New in Town Seacoast Transplant MeetUp group showed up for a PILL Improv night and they took to it like fish to water.   They are living proof that improv activities are fun for everyone who wants to give them a whirl.

First we warmed up with some circle games like Names, Adjectives & Gestures, What are you doing?, and The Gift.  Then we moved on to more advanced activities like Celebrity Party, Two Truths & a Lie, and The Know it All! And of course as any People of PILL will tell you, we finished up with the Danish Clap!

After a little PILL improv, this meetup group knows each other better than ever! Click To Tweet

Katie Ferguson, one of the group’s founders says, “The goal of our meetup is to create an environment for making new friends and creating new experiences for individuals not originally from New Hampshire/the seacoast. Of course we always welcome locals too!”

Space for the event was provided by Garrison Players Arts Center! Don’t miss Moonlight and Magnolias which opens 2/9/18 and runs through 2/24/18.

This is a new venue for PILL too! If you want to talk about bringing some improv to your business or social gathering contact Beth: or 603-205-3509.

Single Session PILL Improv Classes at York Adult & Community Education!

New improv classes this March in York, ME!

Intro to Improv:  Activities Anyone Can Do!

People are talking about PILL (Portsmouth Improv Learning Lab) classes!  Where you don’t have to be an actor to enjoy a all sorts of playful theater games.  At PILL we take the emphasis off of performing.  This shift helps make improv activities perfect for anyone who wants to have fun, meet new people, and sometimes even learn communication skills!

PILL students often say things like:

  • I’m having so much fun. I want my friends to try it,  but it is hard to explain to them.
  • It is like a breath of fresh air!
  • My face hurts from laughing so much! 
  • Everyone is so nice!

Read more feedback.

Most classes require a weekly commitment for 3-6 weeks, but now there is a new way to try out PILL.  Just one session!

York Adult & Community Education is partnering with PILL to offer this new option so you can give it try and see if you like it.  And it is only $25!  There are two dates in March and check out the other great programs coming up soon at York Adult & Community Education!

The sun is getting closer.

Take a PILL & Laugh a Lot!