Fortunately/Unfortunately – Hilarious Improv Take-Home Activity with a Resiliency Ripple

I love the games we play at PILL so much that I go home and get my family to play some of them during dinner.  Our favorite so far has been ‘Fortunately/Unfortunately’.  It’s hilarious and heart-warming to see us all, especially my teenage daughter getting into it, letting her hair down, being silly and having so much fun! -Kelly Hurd, M.Ed.
Reiki Practitioner, Yoga Teacher, Health & Lifestyle Coach, Wellness Educator
603 767-8622

(Scroll down to learn how to play Fortunately/Unfortunatlyl)

Thanks, Kelly!  I find it very exciting to hear how students of PILL- (Portsmouth Improv Learning Lab) bring activities home or to work.  Not long ago, another PILL student shared her story of bringing the Danish Clapping Game to a group of women she was working with in prison.  It was the first time she heard some of them laugh!  And visual art teacher, Rhonda Miller experimented with some improv with kids age 6-12 at a summer camp with great success.

The rippling effect of improv can be profound. Just imagine Kelly's daughter letting her hair down and their family playing together over a meal! Click To Tweet

I learned Fortunately/Unfortunately  at an improv for resilience workshop with Jude Treder-Wolff.  Jude is a creative arts psychotherapist, singer/songwriter and actress who creates and facilitates creativity-based workshops dealing with emotional intelligence, stress-resilience, burn-out prevention and all aspects of professional development. Her article,  Resilience Is Hope With “Muscle” — And Improvisation Training Is The Work-Out That Work is well-worth reading. In the piece she describes six ways that improv builds resilience.  For instance, “Generating supportive social experiences in which everyone can develop their capacity to respond to the unexpected and unpredictable in novel and useful ways that contribute to a rewarding creative process!”

So whether for fun or deeper learning, at home or at work, improv activities are a source of joy!

To Play Fortunately/Unfortunately

  1. Explain that you will go around in a circle and take turns with alternating phrases beginning with fortunately or unfortunately. Let your group know that they can make things up and should build on the story.
  2. If you have an odd number of people, each person will be able to build on the story with both positive and contrary mindsets.  If you have an even number, try two rounds and with second round start off with unfortunately first!
  3. Start with a statement that has some story-building potential like, “One day, (or ‘once upon a time’) I was driving to the store to pick up some groceries.”
  4. The next person should add to the story by starting with: fortunately.  For instance, “Fortunately, my children had made a shopping list for me.
  5. The next person adds to the story and starts with: unfortunately.  For instance, “Unfortunately, there the shopping list was mostly ice-cream and cake.
  6. And so on….
    • Fortunately, I found some string bean cake and broccoli ice-cream.
    • Unfortunately, when I got home my whole family made sour faces.
    • Fortunately, I decided to take the broccoli ice-cream to my neighbor as a gift.
  7. Continue to go around the circle creating the story for as long as it feels fun! Resist the urge to stop too soon as sometimes a little percolating time allows people to get more comfortable with the process.  This can lead to surprising twists!
    • Unfortunately, the ice-cream was melting all over me.
    • Fortunately…

Where this story goes is anybody’s guess. Maybe she’ll be covered with green sticky ice-cream and be mistaken for an alien who is captured and brought back to Mars!  In any case, every one will be part of the story’s creation!  A new shared experience, even if it is a silly one!

If you try it, let us know how it went!

PILL as Playful Learning around Portsmouth – PILL as Playful Teaching around the World!

Over 2 years ago a few people joined me to launch the Portsmouth Improv Learning Lab aka PILL!  Many, such as Joanne Hardin,  have been pleasantly surprised with their experience of improv  without a performance focus.

  • I had forgotten how to play and had so much fun!
  • I met such nice people!
  • I was nervous at first, but the instructors made it safe!
  • I learned how to be a better communicator!

BTW, We have a new beginners’ class starting Saturday afternoons 11/17/18 and would love to have you join us. (If the fee is a barrier, please email beth: bbbboynton@gmail.com)

AND a lot has happened since then!

In addition to many joyful moments in classes, potlucks, fundraisers, and holiday parties there are three pretty awesome things evolving from PILL that have local and global implications.

First, about 15 PILL students have participated in a filming project.  It is a project designed to get video footage that will help others see how fun, easy, and safe activities are.  And how they can be used to teach communication-related skills. These are held at PPMTV and are a blast. Pizza, T-shirts, and fun times are the rewards for participants and I get powerful video footage that I can use  as a nurse consultant.  I teach communication and emotional intelligence in healthcare and am very passionate about it b/c the skills help us provide better care and enjoy our work.  (We make way too many mistakes for our patients and suffer way too much burnout.)

Just last month an online article I wrote about Medical Improv included PILL videos and has gone over the world wide web.  Check it out here and please share with any healthcare professionals you know!

Second, one PILL student knew of and thought that we could be helpful to Friends Forever International, (FFI) a Durham, NH based organization that helps young adults from other countries learn skills and build relationships that will help them become leaders and promote peace!

Michael, Beth, Myan, Liz, & Clinton

Co-teacher, Liz Korabek-Emerson and I reached out, met with their programming director, and then had a second meeting with 3 of their Alums from Northern Ireland and Israel. In this second meeting, Liz and I learned about the improv workshop they were designing and offered some ideas to help them meet their objectives.  (There is an art to designing and facilitating safe, fun, and meaningful improv workshops and I don’t mind claiming, we are really good at it.)

We left that meeting feeling quite jazzed that our input would help them bridge relationships with 10 young adults, ( 5 Catholic & 5 Protestant)!  More to be revealed w/ FFI!

 

Third, Liz and I  also kicked off a community-building  retreat for Journey Song, an organization that works with Hospice and provides singing to folks who are dying. We designed a “Gods Must Be Crazy” session using our most popular formula of mindfulness and improv!

This is a great new way for businesses to offer fun and effective team-building!

The Gods Must Be Crazy was outstanding. I thought it would be good but it was much more than that. –JS Member

I loved 'The Gods Must Be Crazy'! They added a lot to the day & set the tone for the rest of the retreat. -JS Member Click To Tweet

Want to learn more?  Drop us a line!

This Gifted Seacoast Illustrator is Also Very Funny!

After being told not to draw on the walls, Carolyn at age three, started doodling under windowsills and on the blank end papers of hard back books.  When these crayon creations started appearing under the toilet seat, her mom finally took the hint and gave her pens and paper to use. 

(See what I mean about being funny?)

Carolyn grew up in the Seacoast area and received her BFA at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. She has worked as a freelance illustrator for the past 34 years, including one year at Hallmark in Kansas City. After living in San Francisco & Seattle for 22 years, she finally moved back to Portsmouth in 2003. 

Carolyn creates illustrations for advertising, publishing, & products.  To learn more about her work check out her online portfolio.  I saw some familiar art like this Portsmouth, NH one, one for Market Square Day, and Barbara’s foods.

(See what I mean about being gifted?)

To find out more about her humor, check out this story when she played the Rogue Rubber Band at a recent PILL class and her website about page where she is intently playing monopoly with her cat! Well, someone’s cat.

To come and play some easy, safe, improv, check out the next entry-level Discover PILL class! Four Saturday afternoons 2:30-4:30p starts Nov 17th.  If you need to increase your joy experience during the holidays and current events, I highly recommend it! 🙂

 

Friends Forever International-Did you know about this cool organization in our backyard?

Right off of Rte 4 in Durham! You have to admit this is pretty exciting work.  Hopeful work. 

Their MISSION:

Friends Forever International empowers youth leaders to connect, strengthen, and serve communities around the globe by combining their passion to make the world a better place with the skills, experiences, and resources required to do so.  Learn more about the awesome work FFI is doing.

Their GOAL

Every young person who desires, regardless of ethnicity, religion, socio-economic status, and ability will have the opportunity to build their leadership skills beyond what they imagined possible before participating in the program. These young leaders will transform the way that they see the world and realize that they can change the world for the better. Now.

How did this get on the PILL radar you ask?

Word of mouth always involves relationships and stories. That’s why when PILL student, Joanne Hardin suggested that Liz Korabek-Emerson and I reach out to FFI leadership, we did.  She had just completed our mindfulness and improv class, Stronger Together and in addition to her testimonial, felt our work might be of interest to this organization.  (She knows of FFI from a close friend.)

Front to back Chelsea, Beth, Liz!

Long story short, we reached out and were invited to connect. Liz and I met with Chelsea Fitton, Sr. Program and Community Engagement Manager recently.  As you can see we had an inspiring meeting.  And we hope to go back and talk more with their alumni trainers soon.  Thinking just maybe some mindfulness and improv might be helpful! 🙂

Lots of hopeful stuff going on in the world despite all the chaos!  Thanks, Joanne!

Medical Improv & How I Got into It in WAY FUN Podcast w/ Margot Escott, LCSW!

Hey Friends of PILL, ‘Out of the PILLbox Players’, and friends and colleagues of yours truly! Please put this podcast on your radar to listen to and share. I loved talking with Margot about improv work locally and nationally.  Margot’s questions and listening helped me to articulate my beliefs and wisdoms with a sense of confidence, enthusiasm, and spiritual focus that feels so authentic.

Lot’s of fun topics and mentions (my son and his work, history of me and med improv, using the word improv in teaching pros and cons, AIN conference coming up in NYC, love, listening, empathy, and more….)

Podcast: Beth Boynton & Medical Improv

Hope you enjoy, happy for feedback, and most of all, THANK YOU!

Margot’s podcast series is focused on Improv for Therapists and I’m jazzed to listen to others and follow this series. She is a social worker in Florida and is doing some wonderful work using improv for caregivers and folks who live with Parkinson’s.

Oh and PILL classes coming up soon!

 

Margot Escott, LCSW & Beth Boynton, RN, MS - inspiring conversation @ Medical Improv on 25 min podcast! Click To Tweet

Doesn’t this Improv Activity Sound Like Fun?

Richard Oberbruner is a fellow improv teacher.  He shared his experience facilitating this activity recently and I can’t wait to try it with PILL students!
He wrote:
“Three Timeframes.” This scenic improv game was a gut-busting joy recently at my weekly adult improv class. You familiar with it?
Two players act out a scene at three different ages in their lives.   At various points in the scene, I call out a different timeframe. The two players continue their conversation but at older or younger points in their lives. The transitions from one timeframe to another creates the funniest moments!  
This game reinforces two things:
1) Focus on the part of the players. They have no time to think. Just do. 
2) The adage I learned through my training at Second City Theater: Human behavior is the funniest form of humor. Not jokes.
The three timeframes we chose to jump-around in-between were Third Grade / Millennial / Senior Citizens. Third graders are all over the place. Millennials are device-centric minimalists. And seniors are slower, more methodical.   I highly recommend playing this scenic game with your students. It’s stage worthy and life affirming!   ~Richard

Learn more about Richard’s work as a Communications Coach at R.O.I Training. Improv is his communication tool. He conducts employee engagement sessions with corporations and non-profits nationwide.

https://www.buildingbrighterteams.com/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/richardimprov/

How Miles Burns & this PAPA Camp Nurse Helped One Little Kid This Summer!

(This quick story unfolds as I was in my role as PAPA camp RN and Miles in his as Artistic Director of Seacoast Rep).

“Hey Miles’, I said outside the Pierce Camp Birchmont Infirmary, ‘do you have a minute to talk about Sally?” (I’m changing details to protect privacy etc.”)

“Sure,’ said Miles, what’s going on?”

She is having a hard time connecting with other kids.  Some of it is probably due to physical limitations, but maybe some other stuff going on too.  He nodded, sensing what I meant.  Is there a way to include her in one of the talent shows that will be doable for her physically?

“Hmmmm…sure, let me think”, said Miles.

Less than an hour later I was walking down the hill with Sally. Rehearsals by various groups were going on.

“Hey Sally, Miles booming voice caught our attention, would you be willing to help us with this skit for the show tomorrow?  We need someone to walk on and look sad about kids not invited to a dance.  It might involve one or two lines.  It is a short part and would be really helpful.”

Sally looked up at me and then to Miles who went on to explain that they needed someone to play an important and quick part that she would be perfect for.

We walked closer to the small group. She, hesitated and looked to me, I think for encouragement as one who knew her physical limitations well.  I wanted to gently nudge, but not push her and shrugged my shoulders saying something like, “it’s up to you.  Might be worth a try?”

Miles, perhaps sensing Sally’s hesitation, “Why not come on over and help us try out the idea?”

“Okay, can’t hurt to try”. And she went over.  I walked away thinking, THANK YOU MILES.  Thank you for making this one little kid’s experience a priority.  And for using your creative thinking and compassion to do it.

Now, I also know that after a little while Sally decided not to participate in the skit.  And I guess we have to let go of that.  Yet still, the value of being included and choosing not to continue might be important experiences for Sally.  I hope so.

I bet Miles hopes so too.

Quite frankly the whole PAPA camp crew was a pleasure to work with because of the shared ideals about acceptance and inclusion.

I join the many others as part of the SRT family in being shocked and saddened that he has been terminated from his job. Something seems very wrong here.  This Friday, 9/14 at 7pm outside Seacoast Rep there will be a rally in support of Miles being reinstated. People are asked to wear PAPA shirts if you’ve got them. Make signs and spread the word.  I’ll be there.

Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts. --Albert Eintstein Click To Tweet

WOW! Moving testimonial from “Stronger Together” PILL student!

“I feel our world is failing and it is challenging to know/learn what to do to affect change, besides voting! I kept seeing this poster in downtown Portsmouth that mentioned PILL (Portsmouth Improv Learning Lab). It was a 4 week commitment indicating that we would work with divine play, improv and mindfulness. It scared me, why put myself in this position where I may have to be vulnerable? At the same moment, I knew I should be taking this class.

Our leaders Beth Boynton & Liz Korabek-Emerson were gentle, accepting and very funny as were the other 15 class participants. I haven’t been able to verbally process all of what I received from PILL.

I am a workaholic and I am happy to report, that I did learn to play and have fun. All my senses were heightened, due to the mindfulness exercises; the air, smells, stars, the movement of driving home after class all felt like beautiful gifts. A big heavy darkness has been lifted from me and this isn’t even therapy! All of our ‘good-byes’ were so meaningful. To think that we were able to get to that deep level of intimacy & caring for each other without judgment even without speaking about our lives is astonishing to me.

Beth and Liz are creating something bigger than all of us! It will change us and therefore little by little change our world. I am thankful to both Beth & Liz for following their truth and it has truly blessed me.

I did know I was to take that class 😍 and am joy filled.! Joanne Hardin, Rye, NH Retired and active family care taker.”

Thanks so much, Joanne! Your comments inspire our teaching & may encourage new PILL students. Click To Tweet

Coincidently, we were just putting up PILL posters yesterday for our next mindfulness & improv class starting Weds Sept 26th along with other FALL PILL classes.  We got caught in the afternoon showers. Can you guess what happened next?

Yup…we were singing in the rain!  🙂

Improv is easier to try than you might imagine! Single Sessions this Fall on the Seacoast!

You have options!

At PILL (Portsmouth Improv Learning Lab), improv is about having fun in a supportive community.   Our students often say they were nervous to try a class yet, once they get started, have a lot of fun!  You can get a taste of PILL improv with a one-time commitment through Kittery & York Adult Education programs this Fall!

Kittery Adult Education

Thursday Evening Sept 20th, 2018 from 6-8:30p

$38

Toying with the idea of trying out improv in a safe supportive environment near Portsmouth, NH? Click To Tweet

York Adult Education

(See page 15)

Tuesday evening Oct 2nd, 2018 from 6-8:30p

$25

 

This Just in From PILL – For Your Improv Radar! :)

Thanks to new PILLer, David Silberman, aka “Darling David”  we have some other exciting improv goings-on to share!
There is the first-ever Vermont improv comedy festival,….this weekend July 19-21, 2018 https://www.bigpondimprov.com/ – Elderberry Jam, the troupe, (David is a member!) and will be performing at 6 PM!
By the way, this senior-oriented improv troupe is always auditioning for new members…if y

ou or someone you know is an experienced improvisor, of 50 years or higher, check them out! (Hmmmmm, I want to keep in mind!).  You can follow Elderberry Jam here:
Last but not least, there is the Vintage Improv Festival, in Boston coming on Sunday Sept 9, 2018!
Hey maybe could carpool from PILL HQ?
Thanks, David and break a leg this week-end!