PILL logo with ice and snow

No one knew what would happen when they took the Arctic PILL! :)

In fact, no one was really planning on taking an Arctic PILL!  One very cold day in downtown Portsmouth, NH,  3 devoted PILL students came to class.  First Susan, then Kelly, then Jen.  It wasn’t long before they realized their dilemma. 

They were locked out of the building!

As the teacher, I felt a sense of panic when the app to get into PPMTV wasn’t working. 

In my head… Don’t worry.  Trust your students. Trust the process. Try the app again.

Everything will be fine. Try the app again!

After all this was a PILL improv class.  If anything in life can help you learn to roll with the unexpected, it is improv! 
PILL Improv Students and Teacher having fun despite getting locked out on a very cold day!

You know what?  Each woman was 100% supportive! Together  we said YES to the situation and started class outside.   

It was an awesome class. 

Neighbors told us we looked like we were having lots of fun! Later when we went in search for warmth and hot beverages, people at Cere’s Bakery told us we looked so happy.  And I think we livened up Breaking New Grounds with our silly and and love-filled energy!


Beth & Susan rapping like Mr. Mike?


We’ll be announcing winter PILL classes soon!  Please join us for some wacky-fun and loving-spirit times! 

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!

Thankful for People of PILL!

Happy Thanksgiving to all the People of Portsmouth Improv Learning Lab – PILL!  You are such beautiful, loving, and divinely playful people.  I am grateful to each of you for trying something new and bringing your wondrous personalities and kind humanity to every class.

Each of you PILL people and the divine play of improv affirm the goodness and spirit of humanity! Click To Tweet

Over the past 2 plus years you have made me laugh, hysterically at times.  At PILL rubber bands and knitted socks come to life, shoes fly over kings in their thrones, eggplant and applesauce become mouth-watering delights, while eggplant and lemon juice a cure for gout.  Oh, and one little girl who was called to the principle’s office is forever etched in my heart.

You have inspired and influenced my improv teaching skills in a big way.  And some of you have provided video footage that has engaged healthcare professionals all over the USA and maybe abroad.  I even had the biggest blessing of having my son, Curran work with us in a filming session.  The video for the longest “Emotional Meeting”  is a teaching treasure trove and major personal joy.

I had extreme pleasure and much learning in our Stronger Together classes with Liz Korabek-Emerson.  I am grateful for our collaboration.

So thank you all for being part of PILL.

Don’t forget to do a little Danish Clapping today!

 

“Holiday Meal” An Improv Activity with a Cornucopia of Rewards!

by Richard Oberbruner

“Holiday Meal”  

The actors sit in chairs around an imaginary square table (empty middle space). They each impersonate a family member from one of their actual holiday meals. It’s this simple. The mix of personalities will light up the scene!

There is one rule to get the scene started: Talk in order. Once each character is introduced, then multiple conversations typically take hold.

Just like a real holiday meal!

One actor begins speaking in-character. All other actors pay attention in their own way. The next actor to-the-right then gets speaking focus, and so on around the table. The next actor can continue the current topic or branch-off into another one. React naturally when it’s your turn. Let your character’s emotional state dictate what you say. Holiday meals can be emotional pressure cookers. Actors get to say on-stage what is typically not said in real life. Take advantage of this.

Once every character is introduced, the orderliness fades, replaced with a couple conversations going on simultaneously – just like a real holiday meal! Don’t let the menagerie bother you. This is a good challenge for actors to stay focused on who they are, as well as, reacting to what they hear.

At my recent improv class, one woman’s boyfriend wasn’t showing up “again.” This created gossip around the table. The little boy tired of all the “adult talk” hid underneath the table. The know-it-all lady next to him said “That kid needs to be on something. Give him his medicine.” All the actors were being real. No one was trying to be funny. The funny took care of itself thanks to the emotional investment it takes to portray a real person.

The ultimate objective to “Holiday Meal” is controlled chaos. Real people with real feelings reacting to real things. Click To Tweet

Does your character shy away in a busy setting or stick his/her nose in the action? Does he/she become louder, quieter, gossipy, appalled? It’s fun to lose yourself in a scene like this. Beginners can safely test a new idea. More experienced improvisers have a multitude of situations to react to. In either case, “Holiday Meal” creates realistic characters in the heat of the moment.

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/

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! 🙂

 

Lessons about Perspective-taking and Empathy from a Rogue Rubber Band & Hand-knitted Pair of Socks!

Carolyn

Carolyn Vibbert, an illustrator and Kathy Pearce, a librarian are also PILL students (Portsmouth Improv Learning Lab).

Kathy

Oh, but that’s not all!

Carolyn was recently interviewed as the most memorable Rogue Rubber Band (RRB) followed by Kathy answering questions as the most endearing Hand-knitted Pair of Socks (H-kPoS) in our own version of the new hit podcast Everything is Alive!

I know, I know,  it sounds weird.  Yet, not only was it extremely fun to have them interview each other while they personified inanimate objects, both conversations were quite heartfelt.

Here are some highlights!

RRB shared stories from being in a war with other rubber bands.  She didn’t like that.  She also explained how some would put her on their wrist and snap her for some sort of behavior change and that kind of jazzed her up.  Then, in answering a question about being useful, she shared a poignant story of how one her friends who had a disability (was broken) and had been wrapped around a pile of papers and secured with a piece of tape.

H-kPoS shared what it was like to go through the washing machine, scary at first, but ultimately fun. (It was her favorite day of the week as I recall, emerging all fresh and clean).  She also described a difficult time in her life when she was separated from her mate having been trapped in a pant leg and put away for the season.  Oh but what a joy it was when they found each other again! And she wasn’t worried about aging and getting worn b/c becoming a puppet or even cleaning rag offered promises of vitality.

After our class that evening I thought about the experience a lot! I realized that it could be a fun and safe way to build empathy and practice perspective-taking.  I mean, if we can let ourselves think and feel what someTHING else’s experience might be, just maybe it could be a fun, safe step in exploring what someONE else might be thinking or feeling.

Perspective-taking and empathy are critical relationship skills that help us listen, learn, and navigate conflict. Click To Tweet

Powerful skills for today’s world, right? Skills that require safe practice b/c they are not easy to develop, especially if we are feeling vulnerable.

Facilitated improv classes are fun, safe, and sometimes, transformative!

Next entry level Discover PILL class starts Saturday afternoon 11/17/18.

“Collaborative Arts” A new series to learn and practice how to work collaboratively to catalyze change!

Drawing from the ARTS to bring the best out in individuals, communities and businesses holds much promise for humanity and the seacoast is rich with resources!

I recently met consultant, Beth Tener through colleague Liz Korabek-Emerson.  Beth participated in our recent mindfulness and improv PILL class and was a delight to work and play with!

She is doing some exciting workshops at the beautiful Seacoast Science Center and I can’t wait to go to the ecosystem one she is offering.  Perfect location, right?  She just completed the first of three sessions and it was a great success, (THE ART OF DESIGNING MEETINGS THAT DO MORE)!

Here is a little about Beth and upcoming workshops!  (You can go to one or both even if you missed the first one!)

Beth is the Principal of New Directions Collaborative, is a facilitator and strategy coach who works with collaborative initiatives that bring together business, government, and the social sector to address complex challenges, such as transitioning to a clean energy economy and revitalizing communities.

THE ART OF WORKING IN COLLABORATIVE WAYS

Monday, October 29, 2018
1:00 PM – 4:00 PM EDT

Given the complex inter-related challenges our communities and organizations face, it is becoming imperative to work across disciplines, organizations, and cultures to develop workable solutions. Learn more and register here.

THE ART OF WORKING AS AN ECOSYSTEM

Thursday, November 29, 2018
1:00PM – 4:00PM EDT

Activating the full potential within an organization, community, or network requires us to see how our work fits into a larger whole and how we can connect what are often fragmented “parts.” Some wisdom, collective strength, and innovative solutions can only be activated when we engage and connect all parts of an organization, community, or system. Learn more and register here.

Thanks for enriching our community, Beth.

Mindfulness Fundamentals Starts 10/24/18 – Portsmouth Hospital – w/ Liz Korabek-Emerson, MFA

With Liz Korabek-Emerson

$50

Register here

This 4-week class is an introduction to the practice of mindfulness; training the mind to be awake and aware in the present moment. Mindfulness can help reduce stress, support healing and improve well-being. The class will include practice, discussion and suggestions for integrating mindfulness into our busy lives. You do not need any previous experience.

Liz’s teaching style is gentle, playful & deeply compassionate.  She has helped make mindfulness practice more realistic for me! -Beth Boynton, RN, MS

Liz Korabek-Emerson is a certified mindfulness teacher, creative coach and owner of Korabek Training. She has been designing and facilitating mindfulness programs for individuals and organizations since 2012.

Schedule

Wednesdays 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm

  • October 24
  • October 31
  • November 7
  • November 14

Where?

Classroom #1 at Portsmouth Regional Hospital, 333 Borthwick Ave, Portsmouth, NH 03801. 

 

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!