Because it restores everything that is slipping away from us in our distracted, mediated, complex and isolated world. And it’s just darn fun! When’s the last time you did something just for fun?Improv brings us back to connection, embodiment, community, play and civility. Click To Tweet
Long before theatre, music, poetry, and making pictures were the exclusive purview of a professional class of artists who had the “right” training, these activities belonged to all of us and served multiple functions within our cultures and communities. They provided beauty, preserved our history, allowed us to let down our guard, and strengthened relationships. In teaching non-performance improv we are in a sense returning theatre to its essential role in examining and expressing what it means to be human. Theatre, in general as an artform has the unique ability to influence and inform our everyday living because the medium itself is human experience. It’s about us. It is us.
Theatre happens in community. In the communal structure of improv, the basic principle is yes and . . . We are not just playing. We are playing with and for each other. This playing encourages us to develop the skills to be connected; to be present by listening, trusting and speaking up. As our connections deepen through play, our understanding of ourselves, others and the world can’t help but grow. In any given improv, we might be called on to be the mom, zombie, movie critic, or translator. Who knew we could step into all these roles? And if that’s possible, maybe we could expand our idea of ourselves beyond our work/family roles to include something we discover, maybe. In playing with each other and accepting whatever circumstance we are given, who knows what we will find ourselves relating to? Coworkers who are angry, elated, sad, bored or nervous. We might find ourselves open and empathetic to qualities we normally block out or ignore in the people around us. As we continue to practice yes and . . . looking for opportunities to contribute or support to the overall storyline, we can begin to recognize and feel part of a larger trajectory, deepening that sense of being a small AND important part of the world at large. Anything is possible in an improv, along as we listen, trust and speak up. Anything.
In a world that feels contracted and overwhelming and speedy and aggressive all at the same time, more technology, do-lists and work, work, work doesn’t feel like the solution. It feels like more of the same. We need something different like maybe some good old-fashioned play time so we can slow down, laugh and be together just for the fun of it.
Liz is a certified mindfulness instructor, transformational workshop leader and creative coach dedicated to creating opportunities for people to connect to their inherent wisdom, confidence and compassion. Since 2012 she has been designing and leading mindfulness programs for individuals and organizations including the Portsmouth Hospital, Liberty Mutual, and Riverwoods Retirement community. She also holds an MFA in theatre and brings thirty years of experience in theatre to designing programs that are engaging, insightful and compelling. Learn more at Korabek Training.