When Work Pays Off

Tonight was the sixth of seven classes in the Brody’s Level 1 improv class. At the end of my classes, I spend some time doing a debrief about what was helpful in that class. People were sharing their thoughts, and a couple of my students wanted to comment. They were both teachers. One used some warmup games in the middle school he subs in. I was glad to hear it.

It was the other comment that caught my attention though. The other teacher works with students that suffer from autistic spectrum disorders like asbergers. Years ago at a Seattle international improv festival, Randy Dixon had devised a game from watching how participants weathered differences during workshop. It was called ‘Tenser/Relaxer’. It’s essentially a faux meeting of some sort, but the people in the game have arbitrarily decided that one person in the group makes them tense whenever they talk and another makes them relax when they talk. We had done the exercise one night when I was teaching status. This student of mine used the game to teach these kids conversation skills and social cues. He said that it was very successful and had a real impact on these students. I was so pleased to hear that. I was also pleased that he had followed my request that people use their developing improv skills for good. It was so gratifying to see the lesson grow beyond the classroom and help the world in some small way.

Published by bradfortier

Educator, Anthropologist, Entertainer who lives in Portland Oregon.

One thought on “When Work Pays Off

  1. Awesome! I use theater games to play with my niece who is “on the spectrum” as they say. She communicates almost entirely by repeating fragments of things she has heard, and she likes to replay “skits” over and over again. When she starts trying to pull me into a skit, I try to change one word at a time, so that the meaning changes entirely. It gets her out of her repetitive behavior, and usually ends with us laughing hysterically.


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