Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Life Improv(-isation)

Originally posted on September 25, 2017

There is improv (short for mainly dramatiic improvisation) for psychotherapy, also known as psychodrama, pioneered by Jacob Moreno. This has been given new life by professionals who have also done improv for therapy. There’s also comedy improv, done by people associated mainly with the theatre arts—though some few have glimpsed at improv as a way of life. (Much of improv is associated with comedy and competition, so you have to be pretty good at it.)

There’s another category for people who wouldn’t even identify themselves as amateur. Indeed, they’re—most of us, really—don’t even think of ourselves as performing!

So what about addressing some combination and call it “Life Improv”? These efforts would not be for laughs or insights but just an expansion of the way it is! You are improvising, we are, all the time. Just do it a wee bit more consciously.

What’s different is that you can “take it back”—“re-do it.” Simply admit openly that you’re trying out something, or giving a tentative response. Ask for feedback. You’re not giving a definitive response, at least not at first. Others are invited to help you shape it.

The idea that we should be able to respond definitively, without feedback, is nuts. It assumes that the audience has the same cultural expectations as you—which they often do not. (I was reading about how different cultures dealt with different times, so that, for example, in Brazil there’s no sweat if students come late to lectures.) In other words, as the audience pool evolves in the world, we need more ways of shaping our performance to adapt effectively.

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