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Today was the first session of the 8-week Improv 101 series at Impatient Theatre, and I had tons of fun.
Among the first few improvisational games we played was “I Love…”, where the goal was to tell people about as many things you love as you can share in two minutes. Almost everyone struggled with this, stammering or running out of steam. Me? I think I took three breaths total–there were so many good things I wanted to talk about! I started with “I love walking out of the Toronto Public Library with a stack of books *this* high”, shared lots of loves related to learning and teaching and languages and cooking and gardening and sewing–and you can see how this list goes on and on… It was a terrific game that left me buzzing, and I’m looking forward to trying it on my own or sharing it with W- and J-.
We also played the Experts game, a role I slipped into easily. (It’s just like turning off my jargon filter and playing with outrageous ideas!) The other participants set us up to be experts on dog shoes, so we talked about commercial and military developments. I liked discussing crazy ideas in matter-of-fact ways. I also liked building on other people’s contributions, giving more details and referring to previously-mentioned “facts”. The topic for my second round was “space trash”, so we talked about some products and services we’d developed to send trash into space as a way of dealing with Toronto’s current strike. =)
The “Yes, And…” game was more challenging, although I started easing into it. At work and in life, I get plenty of practice (and enjoyment!) when it comes to agreeing and building on people’s ideas. What I’m not used to yet is creating and filling in worlds through declarative statements. I can do that with the Experts game because there’s a clearer structure and a role. With the “Yes, And…” game, the playing field is wide open. I’m looking forward to becoming better at listening, responding, and filling in the specific details that can help my scene partner relax and contribute.
Looking back, I can see a terrific connection between the improv workshop today and the women’s leadership workshop I attended yesterday. In the leadership workshop, we talked about choosing roles and using strong words. Well, that’s precisely what can help me make the “Yes, And…” game smoother and more enjoyable–if I can clearly develop a role, adapt it to what’s going on around me, and use strong words to shape other people’s worlds and paint pictures in people’s minds.
Our homework was to notice when we block others (“Yes, but…”, “No…”, and things like that), and to think about how to turn questions into declarative statements that move the scene forward instead of putting the scene partner on the spot. I’m going to keep looking for opportunities to play with “Yes, And…” in real life (we just did that in the kitchen!). I’m also looking forward to playing the “I Love…” game with W- and J-, because I think it will be tons of fun, and I can play it by myself too as a great gratitude-starter for the day. As for strong words, I’m going to practice using more specific words and drawing word-pictures in my blog and in conversation, and trying out different declarative statements in my head.
Looking forward to next week!