The Power of ‘Yes’

Currently, I’m doing some contract work with the United Way here in Portland. One of my tasks is to visit funded organizations and initiatives and talk to the people there to get their stories. Today took me out to an organization called JOIN that does outreach for the homeless to get them up on theirContinue reading “The Power of ‘Yes’”

Thoughts on Status in Improvised Theater

The introduction of the notion of “status” was transformational for improvised theater. Keith Johnstone’s conceptual innovation took the art of improvised theater into even deeper territory in the 1960’s. Adding the idea of status focused improvisers more fully upon a person/character’s behavior and intention. It allowed them to meditate on what are the ‘key’ actionsContinue reading “Thoughts on Status in Improvised Theater”

Inspiring Words

I’m in the middle of doing research for another book in the works, and I came across this from Brian Sutton-Smith in his book The Ambiguity of Play: However, modern chance games and modern festivals have fallen away from religion and become secularized. Yet one can see that, along with all forms of play, theyContinue reading “Inspiring Words”

Musings inspired by the Vienna Improv Festival

The Vienna festival has come and gone. Hugs, kisses and farewells have been exchanged, and the post-festival reflecting has begun. These gatherings are best described as revivals of a sort. This intense and charged air emerges and blooms from the heroes of play that have been called from across the world. Sometimes I feel likeContinue reading “Musings inspired by the Vienna Improv Festival”

5 Tenets of Ensemble Play

1) Keep it as equal as possible: Unless you’ve been elected to be the director/coach/teacher, it’s not the best of ideas to elect yourself to be the person who tells the ensemble what to do and how to play before you hit stage. This tends to communicate that you don’t trust the ensemble to succeed,Continue reading “5 Tenets of Ensemble Play”

Elements of Ritual and Communion in Improvised Theatre

Introduction Whose Line Is It Anyway?, The Upright Citizen’s Brigade, Saturday Night Live, and a host of other modern popular comedic fare all draw roots from the North American tradition of improvisational theater as developed largely in Chicago, Illinois and Calgary, Canada. This brand of performance creates scenes, stories, characters, themes, dialogue and staging spontaneouslyContinue reading “Elements of Ritual and Communion in Improvised Theatre”

Roadblocks to Connection: “Sorry” and “Worry”

One of the first big ideas I introduce to new students is how “Sorry” and “Worry” are the biggest enemies to good improvisation. I do this because it’s the first thing that I consistently see operating in beginning improv classes filled with new students. It’s our default as humans when facing a new social landscape.Continue reading “Roadblocks to Connection: “Sorry” and “Worry””

The Evolution of Language

Robin Dunbar is amazing. I just finished his book Grooming, Gossip and the Evolution of Language, and it was an eye-opening, insightful and compelling read. The main points of the book are that language evolved as a result of the pressure to keep and maintain social ties in larger primate groups. Once that begins toContinue reading “The Evolution of Language”