Improvisation: to compose, utter, execute, or arrange anything extemporaneously from whatever materials are readily available, on the spur of the moment without previous preparation.
Since many of the creative exercises I will offer in this blog require improvisation, I decided to make it the subject of my first post.
We improvise multiple times a day without even noticing. In a traffic snarl, we make a quick route change. Can’t remember someone’s name? We find ways to hide the fact while maintaining a polite conversation. We ad-lib recipe ingredients. Deal with wardrobe malfunctions. Flat tires. Lost phones. Injuries. Any sort of emergency instantly pushes us into improv mode.
Clearly, improvisation enables us to handle the unexpected. But it is also fundamental to creativity. Improvisation requires spontaneity. Spontaneity requires flexibility. Flexibility allows ideas to grow and morph into new ideas. If a path turns out to be a dead end, a flexible person will discover a new one. Thus, the flexible mind–the mind capable of improvisation–is the creative mind.
Improvisation, commonly called improv, is also a popular form of theater in which everything is made up in the moment, based on offers from the audience. In the blink of an eye, setting and characters are created, relationships established, and connections made to the wildest of suggestions. The magic is the spontaneity.
Whether you are a performer or a spectator, there is nothing like improv to put you in the moment. It’s a very Zen-like experience, though, personally, I find it much more entertaining than meditation. Furthermore, improv promotes mental agility, focus and concentration, strategizing and problem solving skills, confidence and the ability to express oneself more effectively. (No wonder top-tier business schools, Duke, UCLA, MIT and Stanford are all teaching improv.)
With the help of Google you can find improv performances and classes all over the world. Here’s a list to get you started in Canada and the US:
In future posts I will share creative improv games you can play with family and friends, (or even by yourself.) Now, thanks to YouTube, you can watch some masters of the art.
Whose Line is it Anyway?
Upright Citizens Brigade Theater NYC
Upright Citizens Brigade Theater Los Angeles
And now some street art…
Street Art in San Miguel de Allende