“Out of the PILLbox Players” Sneak Peak Slideshow – ‘Emotional Meeting’ OY!

Last summer, we started the PILL filming project to help show how fun and easy PILL classes are and to create training material for Medical Improv.

Recently the second filming session of the Out of the PILLbox Players took place at PPMTV in Portsmouth, NH.  We had a blast!  There is a treasure chest of film footage with beautiful humans playing.  Since it will be a while before video is ready, here is a slideshow from an activity called Emotional Meeting*.   

Out of the PILLbox Players in order of appearance:  Liz Korabek-Emerson, Barbara Trimble, Susan Conly, Curran Russell, Lori Austin, Jody Fuller,  Robin Masia, Glenna Kimball, Dwyer Vessey, Patricia Corso, John Klossner, & Carolyn Vibbert! THANKS  to each of you and all of you  kindhearted and playful people! (Mary Ellen McElroy and Anita Remig were not available for this one.  You can enjoy them in Gibberish Talk Show Host!)

  • Emotional Meeting can be found in Kat Koppett’s “Training to Imagine”!

“Eat Pray Love” & Maybe Play a Little Improv?

Choosing Curiosity Over Fear” is a wonderful interview from Krista Tippett’s Onbeing program with the author of “Eat Pray Love”, Elizabeth Gilbert.  As you will see, if you follow the link, you can read or listen to it.  They are not talking about improv per se, yet their discussion had some wonderful parallels about the process of play and our human experience.

Highlights that might entice you to put this @Onbeing interview w/ 'Eat Pray Love' author on your radar! Click To Tweet
  • A discussion about practical magic which affirms the divine play of improv.

…it’s the mystical things that we need to demystify the most, in order to lay claim to them and to not keep thinking of them as something that only belongs to a very special class of people. The more mystical and precious, in a way, that we make creativity and spirituality both, the more people get left out of it. And I think that’s a pity and a loss, and sometimes, even a tragedy. So it should be that all are invited, or else what are we even doing here?  –Elizabeth Gilbert

  • Exchanges about human creativity which sometimes gets lost in our growing up and life.  

…every human child is born doing this stuff innately. It’s an instinct. There’s no child that you put crayons and paper in front of who doesn’t get it, what you’re supposed to do. No four-year-old boy was ever sat in front of a pile of Legos and said, “I don’t know, I’m just — I’m not feeling it.” [laughs]–Elizabeth Gilbert

When improv experiences are safe and fun, people can reconnect with their own creativity!  It is a delight to see!

  • A really cool story the author shares about an idea she had and lost around the same time her friend and author, Ann Patchett seemed to have found it!

 …ideas are conscious and living, and they have will, and they have great desire to be made, and they spin through the cosmos, looking for human collaborators. –Elizabeth Gilbert

I am convinced that one way to develop trust in and explore the ideas spinning around in the cosmos is with the playful interactions of improv. I found Gilbert’s interview quite inspiring.  Let me know what you think!

Take a PILL & Laugh a Lot! Summer Classes 2018!

There are two exciting PILL classes to choose from this summer!

Stronger Together! The Extra Strength PILL

4 Monday Evenings – 6:30-8:30 pm
July 9th-July 30th         $75

This class is a unique and fun combination of presencing with improv and mindfulness! If you are looking for a way to be in the moment, make new friends, and experience divine play, this dynamic workshop is for you!  Lead by Beth Boynton, RN, MS and Liz Korabek-Emerson, MFA of Korabek Training.

Register Online or email Beth-bbbboynton@gmail.com

Take Another PILL!

3 Monday Eves – 6:30-8:30 pm

Aug 13-27th       $40

We’ll jump right into the divine play of improv! A level II class for those who have already swallowed a PILL or have some improv experience and are looking to play without performing. You can expect a little side-coaching, more complex activities, and lots of laughter!  

Led by Beth Boynton, RN MS.

Register Online or email Beth-bbbboynton@gmail.com

Also, I’ve done a couple of single sessions with various social groups that have been a lot of fun.  Email me if you’d like to talk about such a PILL for your friends and family!  They are mostly for fun and connecting.

 

A Profound & Simple Story of Improv Healing!

Susan, a new student in Discover Pill: The Improv Way to Have Fun, Meet New People, & Grow shared this story  after teaching a closing activity we do to women she works with who are in recovery.

I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy the improv class, but my sister was so excited after taking one of Beth’s trainings years ago that I decided to join her. I have been having so much fun that I decided to bring some of what I learned back to my workplace.

During one of the sessions of our intensive outpatient programs, I taught the Danish Clap to the all women clients in our drug court program. I wanted to see if they would enjoy it as much as I did(do), and they did!

I reminded them how having fun is an essential ingredient of Recovery. I tied in the activity to information about dopamine and brain chemistry. They laughed and had fun. I hadn’t seen them laugh so hard until then. And these women said they were going home to share this improv activity with their children. Click To Tweet

I notice that they are friendlier now and make a point to stop by my office and say hello. I am so impressed with this and look forward to learning and sharing more.  — Susan

What a beautiful testimonial this is to the divine play that improv can be!

Empowering Leadership in Action & Don’t Miss “The Producers” at Seacoast Rep!

As a volunteer usher, I got to see the preview for the latest show at Seacoast Rep last night and it was fabulous! The Mel Brooks musical, The Producers has a story line that will make you cringe while the SRT production will have you laughing and dancing in your seat.  Seriously, you have to be there! 🙂

Big Kudos to the entire cast while I have to say that Jamie Bradley and Chris Bradley were incredibly captivating and hilarious in their roles.  I’d almost see it again just for them! This show isn’t for kids, but if you can make plans to see it, you will have a fun night out.

What inspired this PILL post though was a subtle, yet profound leadership intervention that I noticed when the Front of House Manager, Mark Michael Adams, was doing the huddle for ushers before the show.

He was requesting assistance from one or two of us at the bar and one of the ushers had helped once before.  She seemed willing, yet hesitant when she said, “I will if you want me to”.  Mark immediately shook his head saying gently, but firmly, “No.  If you want to be an independent woman, you have to decide”.  She stepped up to the plate and said, “Sure”!

This is not a small thing because a leader who didn’t understand complex power dynamics or care about really supporting this usher in building her confidence could have easily made the decision for her.  Such a leader could have walked away feeling he (or she) tried to be empowering while holding onto authority. Which isn’t really all that empowering.

What Mark did was create the opportunity and then provide the support for her to make the decision!  And I have no doubt that he did whatever he could to make sure that she was successful in the role.

Now that...THAT is collaborative leadership! THANKS, Mark! Click To Tweet

What is in Your PSE Bucket? Wait, what IS a PSE Bucket?

It is a bucket of Positive Social Experiences.  PSEs are those that feel trusting, and safe.  They may be playful, loving, or even involve conflict that has led to better understanding and a closer, more respectful relationship.  PSEs are affirming of human goodness and contribute to our wellbeing and joie de vivre.  The more the better, right?

Now, it probably isn’t realistic to have all experiences be like this, right?  For most of us this being human involves some painful experiences like broken trust, unsafe situations or relationships,  unresolved conflict, grief, lost and so forth.

There is the not so positive social experience bucket too, (but I’m not going to give it an acronym!).

I love creating a safe environment for teaching improv and watching people play.  I am sure my endorphins get a boost.   With a few guidelines to follow there are lots of improv activities that are super fun to play.  And you don’t have to have any experience in acting or improv!  At PILL-Portsmouth Improv Learning Lab, we take the focus off of performance and put it on the playful experience.  Some students have even called it “Divine Play”!

Next beginner class starts 4/28! Maybe you’ll join us?

Here’s my promise:  Take a PILL and add to your PSE Bucket or your money back!

 

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!

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!

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.