Dalia’s daughter Tamar bought Dalia and me an introductory Improv class for our birthdays (10 days apart in June). We went a couple of nights ago. It was wonderful!
Improvisational theater, now known as “improv,” is a Zen-like practice of being in the moment and interacting with others in games. In our class, and in improv in general, there is a general atmosphere of positivity. A “safe place” is established by the teacher and the students, where no-one need fear criticism or ridicule, and the goal is to have fun.
Some simple rules make possible a wonderful and warm intimacy among strangers:
- “Yes, and….” Whatever frame, story line, or assumption is put forth by the person from whom you “receive the action,” honor it. If she says, “And then a duck flew into the room,” and looks at you, you must accept the duck and move the action forward from there.
- Make others look good. If another actor seems to have departed from the harmony of a scene, do your best to expand the situation so that the possibly awkward move somehow fits harmoniously.
- Feel free to make mistakes, because none of us cares.
As I sit by my computer, working on my book, I am now benefiting from these rules. Whatever weird idea is presented to me by my muse, my research, or my editor, I explore it from a “yes, and…” point of view. Where might it lead? I can do this freely, with abandon, because right here and now, it’s ok to be wrong, it’s ok to step out of harmony.
And I am determined to make others look good. Whatever I’m writing about, whoever was involved, whatever strange things they may have done, I choose compassion as my guiding emotion when commenting on them and their actions.
All of this gives my writing an uplifting spirit, an exuberance it had been missing for a while.