There and back again - an improvisers tale


After ten days away on a beautiful island resort in the Pacific Northwest with 14 wonderful improvisers I was relaxed, excited, and ready to take on the world. I was also filled with that intoxicating high of  bonding with a small group that ate, slept, cooked, cleaned, and played improv games all in the same big retreat house for ten days in a row. Of course the real world was awaiting as soon as the wheels hit the tarmac back in San Francisco. I'm not complaining - getting back to work and catching up is never going to be as good as a getaway retreat. Facebook, email, and photo-sharing makes the transition better than ever these days.

My friend Candace, and fellow retreat goer, is a kindred spirit that infused the principles of improv into her whole life. Over the past year, I had heard Candace explain many aspects of life in terms of improv.

A few days after the retreat I sent her an email asking how "re-entry was going" and this was her reply:

Re-entry is going like this:

  1. Put the foot on the stage.
  2. What does this scene need?
  3. Mistake! WOOOOHOOOOO!  Mistake!  WOOOOHOOOOO!
  4. Put the foot on the stage.
  5. What does this scene need?
  6. Mistake! WOOOOHOOOOO!
  7. Put the foot on the stage.
  8. What does this scene need?
  9. Ah....just Background Work!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  10. Be changed by that.  Be a tree.  Stay present.

There is something happening to the corners of my mouth.  I think it might be a smile.

Can improv help you deal with change, live a better life, make things a little bit easier. Yes, and it can change your whole outlook on life if you let it.

Yes, And - a rule for all Yes, And - inspires them Yes, And - for when you fall And dusting off you try again

(All apologies to J.R.R. Tolken)