What is the most powerful language in all the world?

Gibberish!

In PILL classes we have lots of fun with Gibberish activities.

We played Gibberish Poet in a recent class and one of my students shared her observation that it was wonderful to see trust developing as one person spoke Gibberish and the other translated.  We heard poems about daisies, garbage, and much more.

When you think of it, most (about 90%) of our communication is going on without words, right?  So if we put the actual content aside, which we do in many Gibberish activities we get to focus on other things:

  • Trust
  • Attentive listening
  • Self-expression
  • Relationship-building

As fun and funny as Gibberish activities can be, the deeper transformations that can take place are quite profound. In the video below you can see a top BBC Journalist in an interview with artist, Alex Sternick.  Watch it for a few minutes and focus on all the ‘stuff’ going on between these two people that isn’t about words!  Let me know what you think!

 

 

Late Bird Special! Mindfulness Meets Improv Class-Stronger together!

Does this class sound interesting to you? We love to have you join us.

Stronger Together:  The Extra Strength PILL for Connecting with Fun & Presence?

There is still room in this unique workshop series that Liz Korabek-Emerson and I piloted over the summer!  It sounds weird, but combining these two practices is easy, fun, and sometimes….transformative.

We’ve already got enough signups to run the class and want to see if there are any more takers!

Soooooo….we’re offering a $10 savings to anyone who registers between now and Monday at 6p.  Don’t wait too long though b/c there is a limited # of spots open.

Register/learn more here and look for the Late Bird Ticket!

If you have questions, email me or liz:

Liz:  Korabek@comcast.net

Me: bbbboynton@gmail.com

 

What Makes Applied Improv an Effective Strategy for Preventing Violence?

Ask any teacher of applied improv this question and you’ll likely get a variety of similar answers with a diversity of examples and approaches.  Nevertheless, it is an important question to ask right now.

After all, we seem to be surrounded by devasting violent acts. Some tragedies are manmade like this week’s horrific shooting in Las Vegas.  Some are the results of mother nature, like hurricanes Irma and Maria.  And some are a combination; as with the current situation in Puerto Rico where hurricanes caused massive destruction and we have been slow to help.

I don’t think you get to be human and not experience some kind of suffering.  Yet, minimizing it for ourselves and others seems like a compassionate and purposeful mission.  I believe fiercely in this and that there is hope. Some of which lies with students and teachers of applied improv.

Why Applied Improv?

There are several compelling reasons. First, applied improv is a way to playfully practice and grow fundamental communication skills like listening and speaking up.  All activities help with at least one of these skills while the vast majority help with both. As we practice developing these skills we build the foundation that helps us to manage conflict, embrace diversity, and give and receive constructive feedback with respect and kindness.  These are the building blocks to healthy relationships even among people with different cultures, skin colors, sexuality, age, genders….etc.

Second, participants get to be imperfect and supported at the same time.  We celebrate mistakes in improv which allows us all to be human and stay connected.  While the games of improv can lead to silly, fictional stories like eggplant and applesauce recipes, nano-weights for muscle-building, or knitting book-covers by the millions, there is an underlying and profound sense of trust-building going on. This lets us take risks, try out new behaviors,  and share ideas.  In essence, the process helps us discover who we are and who we want to be.  Our best selves can emerge with authenticity and in friendship.

Third, we get to experience ‘divine play’.  Many will nod in understanding this concept in thinking of a baby playing with his or her food and making funny sounds, dogs chasing each other on a beach, or horses frolicking in a field. This spirit of playfulness is incredibly joyful and improv lets us experience it first hand.

Fourth, as we play together we share experiences that are often, but not always funny.  We also share moments of other emotions such as sadness or anger.  These shared experiences are bonding.  Most people want to care about others and be cared about.  As our world is erupting in chaos, the importance of creating spaces and opportunities for this cannot be understated.

Fifth, a point made by improv student and retired 2nd-grade teacher, Glenna Kimball, “Having time to play together gives us the strength to cope with everything else that is going on”.  This is important b/c getting stuck in despair would be easy to do these days, but not helpful.  Making joy a priority will help us stay the course.

Where can you find an applied improv class? 

I have two businesses that involve applied improv.  One is PILL-Portsmouth Improv Learning Lab, where you’ll find basic classes and along with new projects like combining mindfulness and improv (with Korabek Training) and the upcoming version for young adults (with Project SparX out of Fireside Theatre in Newburyport, MA).  I also teach Medical Improv to healthcare professionals wherever I am invited to.  I have been as far away as Saudi Arabia!  The activities are the generally the same, but the framing involves improving critical outcomes such as patient safety, patient experience, and workforce health.

If you are an applied improv teacher, please feel free to post your related work with any links to it,  additional ideas and approaches you are using in the comment section of this blog.

Summary

Our abilities to cope with, respond to, engage in conflict about, and prevent violence all have roots in our abilities to form healthy and respectful relationships. Our social fabric may be wearing thin or unraveling, but applied improv classes can help.  And there are new teachers and approaches rising up all over the world!  Learn more at the Applied Improvisation Network.

 

 

 

 

Combining Improv and Mindfulness is Trending!

Improv and mindfulness?  Sounds kind of strange, yes?  And yet, what if we can practice being present with ourselves as well as each other?  Hmmmmmmm!

This summer Liz Korabek-Emerson and I launched Stronger Together, a 4-part workshop series where we combined meditation training with fundamental improv activities.   About 10 people jumped in to try out this seemingly weird combo where each week we had a theme for each session and started out with a warm-up activity followed by some meditation and then improv activities.

Some of the feedback we received:

  • I’m having so much fun, but it is hard to explain to my friends.
  • I’ve never felt this comfortable in a group!
  • I don’t want it to end.

And we had so much fun teaching, we are offering it again Monday evenings starting Oct 23rd at PPMTV in Portsmouth and you can learn more or register here.

Other mindfulness/improv resources include Ted DesMaison and Lisa Rowland’s series called Monster Baby Podcast and Liz’s blog series:

Mindfulness Meets Improvisation 

By Liz Korabek-Emerson

Part I: Listen and Respond (and Be Present)

Part II: Start Anywhere

Part III: Embrace Uncertainty

Part IV: Be Kind

Part V: Cultivate Generosity

At PILL we take the focus off of performance.  This helps make joyful improv activities available to anyone who wants to give them a try!

Enjoy “Gibberish Talk Show Host” for the Sheer Pleasure of Watching Humans Play!

Here is another fun video from the PILL filming project involving the Out of the PILLbox Players (OOPPs); Jody Fuller, Glenna Kimball, Liz Korabek-Emerson, Mary Ellen McElroy. Robin Masia, Corrie Owens-Beauchesne, Anita Remig, and Dwyer Vessey!  (You guys are amazing and I love you all!)

In “Gibberish Talk Show Host” adapted from Kate Koppet’s Training to Imagine, there is an interdependence of three people as they impact each others’ roles and build a “scene” together.

  • The Expert understands but does not speak English and doesn’t need to know anything about the topic.
  • The Translator can make up anything she wants while trying to stay in the spirit and tone expressed by the expert.
  • The Talk Show Host can guide the conversation with any combination of cues from the expert or translator.

Here Anita (Talk Show Host), Dwyer (Translator), and Mary Ellen (Gibberish Expert) take on the topic of-Horse-riding suggested by their peers. Meanwhile, the rest of us look on in supportive fascination and wondering…what will happen next? 🙂

While this activity is engaging and hilarious to watch, it can also be a powerful teaching tool to help nurses and doctors communicate better!

Next Discover PILL class starts 9/11/2017! Next Stronger Together class starts 10/23/2017!

And thanks to Chad Cordner for production support and with Colin McCarthy and Eddie Pimansone for manning the cameras!

 

 

 

How Delivering Pizza Led Me to a Spiritual Reunion that I Am SO Grateful For!

Most of my work these days is around developing, promoting, and teaching PILL classes in Portsmouth and Medical Improv at healthcare conferences and organizations all over the country.  I LOVE and am committed to this fun and transformative process!

Upcoming gigs:

But what does that have to do with pizza and spiritual events?

Well……sometimes it is good to step away from trying to make things happen and let them happen with a faith in some higher plane of wisdom, …maybe… right?  So this summer I toyed with some part-time ideas of bartending, nursing, and delivering pizza.  I wanted something low stress and different.  Bartending?  Maybe.  Nursing? No, part-time is too stressful.  Not enough staff typically and I’ve done 30 plus years of direct care.  I want something lighter.

Delivering pizza?  Seriously?

I had to struggle with my ego a bit.  After all, what is a nurse, author, and international speaker doing delivering pizza?  I know, it is a little weird, but that’s what I decided to do.  So a couple of times a week I put on my Papa Gino’s outfit and drive around the seacoast and deliver pizza.  The people I work with are from all over the world and very nice.  The scenery is nice, people getting pizza are usually in good spirits,  and for now,  I kinda like it.

And one day, I was surprised to see a vaguely familiar name on a delivery order that I was assigned to.  A relative of my ex sister-in-law, Susan who passed away a few years ago from colon cancer.  She had been divorced from my brother and due to complex family dynamics way outside the scope of this post, I had lost track of her.  And yet she was a very nurturing person in my life when I was growing up.   ( I think I met her when I was about 10 years old.)

To say the least, I loved her dearly and have fond memories of her and her family.

So, I took a deep breath in noting some anxiety taking the pizza over.  After all, I wasn’t really exactly sure who I was taking it to and what kind of feelings might be encountered given the old family dynamics and my, shall we say unusual role?

Well, Susan’s brother answered the door.  I remembered him immediately, gave him the pizza, and introduced myself saying how much I missed his sister.  He remembered me and without any hesitation invited me in to see his (and Susan’s) Mother.  OMG what a gift.  I remembered her and she, now elderly,  remembered me.   We hugged and both got teary.  She’s just as nurturing as Susan was!  When I was a little girl she AND Susan were wonderful beacons of love in my life.

Well, she wanted me to come back and her son said the door was always open.  I left with a full heart and promise to do so.  I even dropped by without my pizza garb for a longer visit last week.  I feel so joyful about this reconnection and opportunity to be part of her village at this point in her life and mine.

Crazy, right?  A Higher plane of wisdom, maybe….right?

Thinking of Taking a PILL? Check out Sunday’s Single Dose and September’s Discover PILL Classes

I love teaching Improv classes for people who want to have fun, tap into a supportive community, and play around with personal growth.  Ask any PILL-taker what they love about class and you may get different answers.  One thing I think we all share is the joy experienced in Divine Play.  I’ll write more about why I love teaching and playing improv in another post, but right now I want you to know about 2 upcoming classes!

Discover PILL:  The Improv Way to Have Fun, Meet Nice People, & Grow!

Monday evenings 6:00p-830p, Sept 11th-Oct 16th 2017

This beginners’ class is held once/week for 6 weeks and is a great way to try fundamental improv activities and meet some fun and nice people. You may also experience increased confidence and improved communication skills. Facilitated by Beth Boynton.  We’ll make time for discussion and socializing.  No experience necessary!  Just a desire to explore the realm of this divine play with others.  Read more or register here!  This class may be repeated multiple times!  Oh and don’t miss the Early Bird rate!

Contact Beth (bbbboynton@gmail.com) with any questions!  I’m always happy to meet for coffee in Portsmouth and tell you more.

Discover PILL 2: More Divine Play the Improv Way

(It is a Single Dose PILL and STARTS THIS SUNDAY!)

4th Sunday of the month starting August 27th.

If you’ve taken Discover PILL: The Improv Way to Have Fun, Meet Nice People, & Grow and/or Stronger Together: The Extra Strength PILL for Connecting with Presence and Fun, you’ll be jazzed to know about Discover PILL 2. In this once a month level II class we’ll jump right into improv activities, try some more complex ones, and play for longer. They’ll be time for socializing and discussing too! But mostly, we’ll play! Read more or register here.  You can save by registering online.  Use the private pay option to pay the online rate at the door!

Contact Beth (bbbboynton@gmail.com) with any questions!

Spotlight on Seacoast Actor & NH’s Commitment to Holistic Health Via Art, Medicine, & Improv

Jennifer Sue Mallard is well-known for many wonderful acting roles on the NH seacoast.  Did you see her as the Lady of the Lake in this Summer’s hit show, Spamalot at Seacoast Rep?  OMG the whole show was amazing and so was she!

A newer and also exciting role for Jen is as one of the dedicated instructors at the River Guild Holistic Health Collective in Concord, NH.  Here she teaches many forms of art all of which is approached in a therapeutic way. She incorporates meditation in every class and teaches improv for adults and youth.

Jen also teaches wire wrapping healing stones, painting from your soul and collaborative choreo!

I’m loving having found an outlet to combine my passions of helping people organically and in a healthy way by using what I know And love. Art is such a beautiful form of medicine and I’m lucky to have become aware of how I can use my skills in a deeper way, to bring us all together and heal the soul!  –Jennifer Sue Mallard

The River Guild is a holistic health collective with community space serving Concord and Central New Hampshire. Their classes include yoga, healthy eating seminars, meditation, reading groups, author events, mindful parenting, art and children’s classes. Doesn’t this look like an exciting place? Whether for primary treatment or to support traditional medicine, with all the chaos in health care these days, it is reassuring to hear about a calming and loving place for healing.  And what a great place for instructors too!

Their philosophy is grounded in the firm belief that everyone has something to learn and everyone has something to teach!

Meanwhile, here on the seacoast Fall classes for PILL-Portsmouth Improv Learning Lab are taking shape. Applied improv, (different from improv comedy) is a fun way to meet people and grow!

Lots of Creative Happenings on the NH Seacoast-Yes, Like The PILL Filming Project!

Thanks to the amazing Out of the PILLbox Players* and Portsmouth Public Media TV, the PILL filming project is off the ground.  PILL stands for Portsmouth Improv Learning Lab where we hold improv classes for everyday people who want to have fun, develop interpersonal skills, and meet other nice people.  (We even have a new class combining mindfulness and improvisation!)

There are two goals for the filming project:

  1. To help people see how safe, fun, connecting, and enriching improv activities can be.
  2. To provide video samples of activities that can be used for teaching as discussed in my train-the-trainer book, Medical Improv: A New Way to Improve Communication.

Same Time Story aka Mirror Speech aka Synchronized Story is a fun improv activity adapted from Viola Spolin’s book,  Theatre for the Classroom. Here, Glenna Kimball and Jody Fuller demonstrate the activity while their friends look on!

As you watch this 2 min Youtube, notice:

  • How much fun they and their classmates are having!
  • How quickly they adapt to an unexpected topic and change in leadership!
  • How focused they are on each other!
  • How safe and easy this activity can be!

Same Time Story can be useful in the development of emotional intelligence and respectful listening skills and it is a great way for people to experience what it is like to be heard!  Yet, it can be tricky to teach or explain in writing!

Introducing the Out of the PILLbox Players (OOPPs)!

Jody Fuller, Glenna Kimball, Liz Korabek-Emerson, Mary Ellen McElroy. Robin Masia, Corrie Owens-Beauchesne, Anita Remig, and Dwyer Vessey! A couple OOPPs have acting backgrounds. Most do not.  All have taken some PILL classes and have agreed to help with the goals of this project.  We had a blast and will be holding 3 more sessions.  (If you are interested in participating, contact me:  bbbboynton@gmail.com)

And thanks to Chad Cordner for production support and with Colin McCarthy and Eddie Pimansone for manning the cameras!

 

Mindfulness Meets Improvisation-Part V-Cultivate Generosity

In part I of this series we explored how both practices help with listening, responding, and being present.  In Part II, we talked about starting anywhere, Part III, embracing uncertainty, and Part IV-on being kind!  

Here we explore how these two seemingly different practices both help us to: Cultivate Generosity!

When we are confident in our ability to meet our lives, moment by moment, we can afford to relax and be generous with ourselves and others.   We can take the long view and put things into perspective.  We don’t have to take ourselves so seriously.  In practicing mindfulness, once our minds settle even for a moment, we begin to connect with spaciousness, the feeling that there is enough room for things to be just the way they are.  

The ducks can just float by – we don’t have to line them all up.  

We recognize our thoughts and then practice letting them go.  We have the opportunity to further practice this when we improvise.  We have an idea of what to do next and then the situation changes and we have to shift gears, letting go of our idea.  By continuously letting go of our ideas, thoughts and scenarios in our heads and opening up to the moment fresh and curious we create the spaciousness to go with the flow.  

In the flow we start to see the bigger picture and how we can jump in and be generous.

If you are interested in experiencing these two practices (and we hope you are), join Beth Boynton and me for our exciting launch of the workshop:

Stronger Together:  The Extra Strength PILL for Connecting with Presence & Fun 

We believe you will exhale, laugh, and leave sessions feeling stronger together!

Mindfulness and improvisation?  To help people develop emotional intelligence, good communication skills, presence and deeper connections?  Granted, it’s a little out of the box.  But most fun, cutting edge and innovative stuff is.  -Liz Korabek-Emerson

Liz is a certified mindfulness instructor, transformational workshop leader and creative coach dedicated to helping people become more resilient through mindfulness.  Since 2012 she has been designing and leading mindfulness programs for individuals and organizations including the Portsmouth Hospital, Liberty Mutual, and Riverwoods Retirement community.  She also holds an MFA in theatre and brings thirty years of experience creating and directing theatre to teaching programs that are empowering, creative and engaging.  Learn more at Korabek Training.