I have been improvising for ten years now - I perform, train, still learn and teach others (or rather, as I prefer to call it, I bring people into this experience and support them to discover as much as possible). 

What I do, or rather we do together in improv, is constantly entering and being in the unknown and uncertain, with other people, in spontaneous creating and taming this variable, ambiguous, complex "here and now". 

Now we are all in a similar situation, whether we like it or not. 

Seeing this analogy, I have extracted some attitudes and skills that improvisation gives, strengthens and perpetuates. I feel that they have a great influence on me in the current situation and help me to cope with it. So, I decided to share them with you. 

1) Acceptance

In improv, we seek first and foremost acceptance – taking a situation in which we, as improvisers, agree to the ideas of others, as well as our own. We are already in it, so we react spontaneously and step by step we go on creating. 

In the current situation, I accept this new, uncertain situation in which I am, and I react, I adapt to it, trying not to lose energy and mental resources to immerse myself in negative emotions. 

This is obviously not easy - improvisation happens in contact with people, and now we often sit at home and keep contact with others to a minimum. Nevertheless, I am talking about a certain attitude, a mindset followed by action - if only it means to sit on our asses at home. 

This acceptance principle is called "yes, and..." in improv. We agree with the reality that we spontaneously create and look for ways to develop it coherently, together. I believe that all those who are taking responsibility for the current recommendations tell them "yes, and...", working together to make the current "stage story" end sooner than later. 

2) No judgement

This, by the way, is very much connected and supports acceptance. In improv we don't judge ideas and creative bricks, which are thrown by others. They already exist, so we constantly look for ways to use them creatively – since we already have them in our hands. Saying "no" to such ideas, considering them worse in any way, will stop the whole process of co-creation, the scene and history will "crumble" and everything will fall apart. 

In the current situation, I don't judge on a macro scale - "whose fault it was, why it happened to us, because of this, that, him, her..." I'm in this situation, so I think - what I can do here and now, for my own and others' sake. But it doesn't mean that I don't judge at all - if I see selfish, short-sighted, inadequate attitudes, yes - I judge and say that's not right. 

3) Accepting mistakes 

While improvising, we create an imaginary reality on an ongoing basis, then it is easy to make various mistakes - we may not hear something, misunderstand something, send an inaccurate message, fail to react with the appropriate level of acceptance, delay the reaction, throw in a baddish idea in a given situation. In improv we accept mistakes and try to find ways to use them creatively and not to stop emotionally pointing them out. 

In the current situation we are working totally on a living and dangerous organism. Mistakes have probably been made and are being made by everyone: Chinese, Italians, Britons, French and us too. Yes, we can learn from the mistakes of others and react faster or differently. Again, it's about attitude and mindset. The mistakes have been made, we are "here and now" in the current situation. So, what can we do to act and react NOW, using what we have?  

4) Openness and flexibility in action

Improv is a constant experience, an exercise in reacting as quickly as possible to the current situation. It is the ability and attitude to proactively adapt to the "here and now" and to creatively create options that develop the action.

The analogy is obvious to me. Again, I'm talking about an attitude and a mindset that I already have under my skin (psyche, soul), which goes towards action, flexible response and creative thinking. It's an openness to the future and options, and not getting stuck in limiting, difficult emotions and fatalistic thoughts. 

5) Release the control

This also has to do with agreeing. In improv, we have to agree that we have no control over what's happening. What we create is the sum of our creative cooperation, happens between us, in a constant dance of smooth taking over and giving control back. 

Now we are also in a situation of lack of control, on a global scale. Constant uncontrolled experience helps us, improvisers, to be more calm, more balanced in ourselves, here and now. 

At the same time, I want to make it very clear: I know that the situation is very difficult, and it is not easy to do all the things mentioned above. I know it's not easy for me either. The current situation affects me strongly - privately, because I like and value contacts with people, naturally, especially with the loved ones. Professionally, because most of my work is based on contacts and cooperation with people, as a trainer and coach. All this has been stopped for an indefinite time. I'm aware that one can do some things online, but not all of them and not to such an extent when I do it among people. I also respect very much and completely understand the painful experiences and emotions of many people whose lives, especially professional ones, are falling apart in this extreme situation. 

Let's stick together (even if we are separated now for some time), let's think how we can agree more and create this new reality together. Pathetic ending? Maybe, but I feel this way.  


25 November 2020

Improv skills in times of uncertainty

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