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 bbbboynton@gmail.com 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!

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!  laustin302@gmail.com

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:  bbbboynton@gmail.com 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!

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! 🙂


Portsmouth Fitness Leader Happy to Support Homelessness Fundraiser

Honore and her Mom, Andrea

I’ve been taking Zumba dance classes at Jubilation (where your first class is always FREE!) for years and love it.  The music, moves, and community fill me up in so many ways.

The owner, Honore LaFlamme has a big heart and when I asked about using the studio for a Back on My Feet fundraiser, she didn’t hesitate to say “Sure!”!

I believe in supporting nonprofit organizations when I can b/c they do so much for our community. Besides, the idea of helping homeless people get back on their feet with a jogging program sounds empowering!  —Honore LaFlamme

She’s also hosting a food drive that one of the other instructors,, Michelle Poulin organizes every Thanksgiving.

It is a great village!

There are all ages and abilities at Jubilation and all the instructors are fun and supportive!  Personally, I love being part of the older culture gravitating towards that back row!  There are quite a few of us boomers doing what we can, supporting each other, screaming on occasion, and welcoming new people.  Did I mention that the first class is always FREE?  And the schedule has options for everyone!

What’s the fundraiser about?

Lightening Larry

Lori Austin, a local social worker and student at PILL-Portsmouth Improv Learning Lab, (among other things) is leading the fundraiser with her non-imposing, yet very inspiring alias Lightening Larry! 

The local event will take place on 2/24/18 and is part of Lori’s bigger fundraising plan.  We’ll share more about that soon, for now I just wanted to publicly thank Honore for helping and casually mention Larry’s, I mean Lori’s Back on My Feet crowdsource project!