A Lifetime of Learning in 60 second Improv Game: Death in One Minute!

Sadly, my improv teacher, David LaGraffe, passed away suddenly a few months ago.  David was a gifted facilitator in creating a safe environment for taking risk, playing, and reflecting.

david lagraf

 I teach improv as an opening to the possibilities of one’s own genius.

–David LaGraffe 

I miss his teaching and am grateful for many fun and profound experiences over the years.  One of my fondest memories is from a few years ago when we did an activity called Death in One Minute.  Basically there are two participants who have 60 seconds to start and end a scene with one participant dying.

We were husband and wife on a boat.  We started the scene and within the first 10 seconds he fell to the floor and was dead. (Not really but for the scene!).  I raced to his rescue screaming and trying to revive him.  And I continued to try frantically for the remaining 50 seconds. (It felt like forever!)

In the debriefing that followed, he gently nudged me to think about other possibilities.

What else might I have done besides screaming?

  • “Free at last, the poison worked!’ I take out my cell phone ‘Jim, he’s gone.  Meet me in 20 minutes at the dock.  I’ll cover him with the tarp and you jump on.  I’ll need help with the body….”119px-(Woman_in_Hat_Rowing_a_Boat)_-_Google_Art_Project
  • “Poor David, he should have remembered his medications, but you know I was tired of reminding him.  All those years of cooking and cleaning for him….I’m sure I can make it to Greece and start the fine chocolate shoppe I’ve dreamed of…”
  • “Oh my, I’ve never tried driving this boat.”  I take the steering wheel and shifts sharply to the left and screams and falls while David rolls.  I over correct to the right….(for all I knew this may have revived him!)…
This place of opportunity and hesitancy is a very rich growing edge where I learn what holds me back Click To Tweet

In that 50 seconds, anything was possible.  But I had stayed in this mode of reaction rather than bring my own ideas forward. OMG!  I so get it now. And this place of opportunity and hesitancy is a very rich growing edge where I have and continue to learn what holds me back, to safely take more risk, and appreciate how hard it can be.  At the time, we laughed about the memory and this shared understanding about how deeply powerful this work can be.

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