Presenting the PILL Poster People of Portsmouth!

Beth Boynton, RN, MS & Liz Korabek-Emerson, MFA

Beth and Liz love teaching PILL classes! Sometimes serious, oft times silly, and always kind; it is no surprise that they have fun putting up PILL posters promoting classes and events.  Even on cold icy New England days! (We were very careful not to curtsey on icy areas! 🙂 )

This poster is going up at the RiverRun BookstoreThanks to all businesses in downtown Portsmouth, NH who have a community bulletin board! Click To Tweet If you see one without a PILL Poster please let us know! 🙂

 

Applied Improv & Trust! Glorious, Glorious Trust!

One of the differences between applied improv and improv comedy is that we take the focus off of performing and put it on the process of play.  One of the most fundamental and powerful parts of that process involves trust!

What does trust mean to you?

For me, it means feeling safe, respected, even loved,  along with a sense of ease in my body, mind, and soul.  Trusting someone means I can count on them to do what they say, give me a break for my imperfections, own their own part in a conflict, accept me, even celebrate me as I am…things like that. I’ve had some betrayals in life and don’t take these things for granted.  Insecurities and sensitivities are part of who I am.  Join the club, right?

Taking improv classes has been really helpful to me in exploring trust and having fun doing it.  The very principles of play support trusting relationships.  They do vary from teacher to teacher a little bit.  At Portsmouth Improv Learning Lab, fondly referred to as PILL, we follow these principles and in parenthesis, (their relevance to trust).

PILL Principles of Improv 

  • “Yes and…” (This golden rule of improv ensures that players share responsibility for co-creating scenes and stories.  I learn that I can count on i.e. trust my partner!) 
  • Support your partner (I help others devlop trust as I am trustworthy.  I gain insight and experience into what trust looks and feels like.)
  • You have everything you need (Here I learn to trust myself to offer something of value while trusting my partner will make it work.)
  • Celebrate “mistakes” (It’s ok to be human!  YAY! I’m OK, you’re OK, we’re OK!)
  • Avoid questions (This one is a little harder to explain, but deep inside, there are times that I and others will ask questions to avoid fully participating in a relationship.  Avoiding them, for some people, means trusting themselves and others.)
  • Feel free to make things up (Actors already know this, but some people who are new to improv need permission to get out of their heads.  The pressure of being right or knowing something can be set aside.  I make something up trusting my partner will run with it giving me feedback that trusting is safe).
  • Observers play an important role (This gives people new to improv the freedom to not take a risk if they don’t feel safe. I learn to trust the teacher here and have control where I may need it. AND I can be helpful by watching and sharing insights.)

Despite difficulties broken trust situations have caused for me, these experiences have taught me to place a high value on trust and helped me to be sensitive to what others are experiencing.  It is part of how I continue to grow as a person.  And as a teacher to be more effective in creating a safe environment for students to take risks, play, and grow together.

You don’t have to have trust issues to enjoy or learn from PILL.  I don’t always feel trusting, but when I do it is indeed a glorious feeling.  Do you have experiences with trust in taking or teaching applied improv? What would you add?

Check upcoming PILL classes and open house.

Do You Nurture Your Playful Spirit?

I remember my father’s playful side.  Not often, but once in a while it came out! One example that comes to mind is when I was 12 or so and there was a hail storm going on outside.  He called to me exclaiming there were huge hailstones I should see!  So, I ran to the front door he was holding open and peeked onto the front lawn.  I immediately knew what he was talking about.  There were two big clumps of ice    sitting there….easily 10 times bigger than what I could see falling from the sky.

“WOW”, I said, excited to share this wondrous event with him.

A second later I noticed their shape and an instant after that I knew he had fooled me! Click To Tweet

There sat two ice cubes in the grass and behind me my father was trying not to laugh.  I love this memory of him.  Even thinking of it, I smile. In that moment of playfulness we were connected in a special way.  It felt safe, loving, and trusting,…even though I was being tricked.

And while sitting here working on this post at Profile Coffee Shop in Portsmouth, NH where they have all sorts of albums on display, another funny memory is triggered.  When my son was 10 or so, we often had music going on and we both enjoyed a wide variety; from Broadway hits, to Folk music, to Disco.  BUT, I had a Patsy Cline CD that he could not stand.  He would groan, beg for me to turn it off, or even do so himself. Then there was a spell of not listening to it. I couldn’t find it and forgot about it until reaching into the bookcase where he had carefully hidden it!  It was funny then and it is now thinking of it.  (So I just emailed him a photo of the album.  I bet he’ll smile too).

Play is integral in PILL classes and the more I teach and get feedback, the more obvious it is that people are grateful for opportunities to laugh and play together.  My friend and colleague, Liz Korabek-Emerson and I were talking about our class that combines mindfulness and improv.  We have come to realize that our success in this venture, (in addition to being commited and caring teachers), is that we are playful together.

What Sparks Your Playful Spirit?

Play is an important human experience and contributes to our health and wellbeing. Even neuroscience tells us that it is important for our brain!

Don’t miss the beautiful pics of dog and fawn in Neuroscientist, Jaak Panksepp’s TED Tx about the science of emotions and play!

So what can we do to nurture our playful spirit? Why not take a minute and reflect on our own human experience.  Do you enjoy playing with your children?  What about watching horses frolicking, a silly dog, a funny movie?  Take a moment to think of something that makes you smile.  How does it feel in this space of divine play when you experience, watch it, remember it happening? Connection? Presence? Safety? Joy?  Love?

For me, it is all of these in these moments with my dad and son and at PILL.  And the memories are powerful too! Seeking out experiences that make us laugh and smile is like eating healthy, exercising, and meditating.  Good for the body, mind, and soul, don’t you think?