Another reason improv is great

Discussion of the art and craft of improvisation.

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Another reason improv is great

Postby beardedlamb » February 4th, 2006, 6:17 pm

This morning I volunteered for a group called Chicago Cares that goes into Chicago Public Schools and does a Saturday morning program for elementary kids. They pick a topic they think might be of interest for the students and then C. Cares comes up with some volunteers for the subject. They picked improv and after seeing a post on the Chicago Improv board, I signed up. There were about ten of us so they assigned two teachers to each grade. I was teaching with a guy I had never met before but I must say knew his stuff.
The reason I'm writing is to simply reiterate how great improv is. I know I'm preaching to the choir a bit on this but everyone needs reminding every once in a while.
Improv does not discriminate against age, race, income, or even the disabled. It is for everyone. It is for anyone who wants to improve their life.
We were only there teaching for a little over an hour but in that hour we saw kids come out of their shells. We saw kids bonding with other kids they wouldn't normally expect to connect with. It was great to see kids tell stories and laugh together across whatever social walls the world has put between them.
There was a boy that one of the non-improv volunteers suspected was autistic. She warned us about this early on. He would easily get distracted and didn't want to participate in a lot of the games. But a couple games really struck him as a lot of fun. We taught them Zip-Zap-Zop and after a few nonchalant zips and several unenthusiastic zops, my partner introduced something that made them go nuts. When someone sent the zap to you it was like a laser and you could do whatever you wanted to show you were affected by it. Kids were flopping all over the floor, loving the physical reactions to a fake laser. But particularly, the autistic boy was fascinated with the concept. He begged to be zapped so he could spastically flop around much to the delight of his classmates. Once the game was over and everyone went to go on a potty break he stayed in the room with me and we zapped each other hopping around the room and hiding behind tables. As people trickled back into the room I sat down on a low table and he came and sat down in a little kid's chair next to my leg. We zapped a couple more times and then he wrapped his arm around my leg resting his head on the outside of my thigh. It was only for about five seconds but it was one of the most amazing feelings to know I had grown so close to him in such a short time and that improv had given him some focused joy. These kind of feelings make you invincible.

These kind of feelings are what improv is all about.

We left to pow-wow back with our group before meeting the kids in the lunchroom for pizza. In the remaining ten or so minutes before they came down they made us Thank You cards saying how much they loved improv and how they hope we will come back. One of the other male teachers got a Valentine from a third grade girl saying she loved him. so cute.


So please, improv people, and this is where it turns preachy, think on this the next time someone asks you to pass out flyers or clean the theatre or make it to rehearsal on time for once you lazy bum.
You have been given a gift.

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