The improv-alive StoryWhat would happen if someone brought the tools and principals of theatrical improvisation to the world of business in such a way that ordinary people could rediscover their extraordinary ability to communicate, to make decisions, and to lead?
This is the question I’ve been pondering since my first day of Improv 101 at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade, one of New York City’s foremost improvisation schools for actors. My quest for an answer to this question has become the guiding vision for Improv-Alive.
In order for a team of people to successfully improvise on stage, each actor must adopt a few simple but powerful principles: Listen with your whole body. Be in a state of agreement and build on what your team is creating, (Yes, and..) rather than closing off (No, but..) Silence your inner critic. Own, celebrate and share failure.
Having come to improvisation from a career in IT and Technical training, it was clear to me that the skills needed to create a good improvisation are very much the same skills that are needed to be successful in business. These principles are so basic, so universal, so easy, yet so powerful! I wondered why they had remained mostly un-adopted in the business world.
When I returned to Seattle in 2007, I began exploring how I might teach others the skills I had learned in improvisation in a non-scary, but engaging way. My first classes, which I taught through the Seattle Free School, consisted mostly of non-actor students including professionals from Microsoft, AT&T and REI. Surprisingly, the students who seemed to get the most out of the sessions were the non-actor business professionals, who were consistently finding abilities within themselves that they never knew they had. Repeatedly, I was told by these students how they wished that they could bottle this up and take it to their departments at work.
At some point between toddler-hood and adolescence, many people become conditioned to hide their mistakes and apologize when they don’t perform the way they think they’re expected to. They often forget the gift they were endowed with at birth. Yes, creativity comes as standard equipment in humans. The trick to fostering creativity in an individual or organization is to create an environment in which each person allows them self to rediscover their creativity.
Improv-Alive strives to create this environment through a full-body, multi-sensual, improvisational learning experience that breaks down self-imposed limits and unleashes the innate creativity of those who open themselves to it. This is what Improv-Alive is all about.
Welcome. It’s time to play!
Chief Spontaneity Officer