Showing posts from March, 2020

Keeping Connections

A lot of people think improv is about coming up with clever lines quickly. Although that can, at times, provide laughs, the real basis is connection. Improv is a team art. It's about working together, and working together requires connection. So before you worry about what funny thing to say, work on getting connected. Improv teacher Jimmy Carrane writes in his book, Improvising Better , "It's not the words, it's the connection, we mean the nonverbal connection..the silence between you and your partner before you think the scene has begun." Before you get into your head about what  to say, spend time just being connected. As we continue to remain somewhat isolated in our homes during this time of "social distancing" we may lose that sense of connection. So, Spiritual Improvisers, how do you stay connected to others without being in physical contact? I know churches and others have latched on to Zoom for online gatherings. Facebook live is another way t

Time to get real.

One of the classic books on improv is Truth in Comedy  by Charna Halper, Del Close, and Kim Johnson. The authors' approach is simple, comedy comes out of truth. Think about the friends you think of as funny. Is it because they tell great jokes or perform stand-up? Probably not. Most likely they are funny in every day conversation. As you hang out and just talk about the day, they seem to always have a funny twist on things. They are real and present and unguarded. In doing improv, a performer needs to remember it's not about hitting a punch line or having the best comeback that is important, it's about being real, present, and unguarded. As Truth in Comedy  puts it, its about "exposing our own personalities." This is not just true of performing, Spiritual Improvisers, it's true in every day life. How well you open yourself up to others and allow yourself to be honest and present will determine the quality of your relationships. And, the quality of your relat

Can't take it anymore? Time to be still.

The Coronavirus has disrupted every aspect of our lives. Right now many of us are under a “Stay at Home” directive. It hasn’t helped that where I live it’s been raining almost every day. Other than a needed run to the grocer or walks around the block, we are staying inside. Whether you call it “cabin fever” or “going stir crazy”, it can stress a person out. Our minds become distracted, our blood pressure goes up, and our tempers flare. So, Spiritual Improvisers, how can we handle this? You might think improv is just about being quick witted and fast on your feet. Although it can be, two  important rules of improv are about slowing down and paying attention. Those rules are; focus on the intent, and stay connected. Without our routine and relationship connections, it is easy hard to stay focused and connected. Not only with each other, but within ourselves as well. So here is a plan to keep ourselves focused and connected; be still. Yep, be still, keep quiet, take a break.   This

Improvising Church in the age of Covid-19

The first rule of improvisation is “yes, and!” In improv you must deal with what you are given. No matter what your scene partner comes up with, no matter how far off kilter it is, you cannot deny or reject what they give you. You must accept it and build upon it. It is the classic “Yes, And.” This pandemic, Coronavirus Covid-19, has forced the church to improvise how it provides community and a worship experience. Most of the churches I know are hosting the daily offices on Facebook live. The officiant reads the office and viewers can follow along with their own Book of Common Prayer or an online version. For the most part the services were conducted by a lone officiant from their home. If the officiant was a priest, she or he wore a clerical shirt with no other vestments. Lay officiants tended to wear street clothes. Many of my friends watched the live stream from The National Cathedral in Washington D.C. In full vestments in the empty cathedral were the dean, several cle

Unbusy by Andy Dragt

I found myself in a flurry of activity. I was working, teaching and improv class, producing a 10-minute play festival, while at the same time planning for my retirement and doing the work of shifting my responsibilities over to others. I felt like I was drinking from a fire hose. In the midst of all this I had the opportunity to review  Andy Dragt's book, "Unbusy." Perfect timing, I thought! The premise of Dragt's book is that he uses the physics of flow to guide and organize his life. Basically, physics is the science of how things behave. Through physics we can explain the movement, connection, and behavior of all things. The more we understand how our own behavior, and thus our calendars, the more we can be in control of those outside influences that exert force and try to control our lives. The analogy Dragt most uses is that of water. Water at point A, the top of the mountain, wants to get to point B, the ocean. The most efficient way for it to get from point