This comes from David LeGraffe, who helped bring Portland Playback to FSP for the arts intensive last fall... Playbacks happen during First Friday each month - it could be a great parent outing!
Commentary: Best-kept secret to creating social change is… improv
Marc Evan Jackson, Good blog, 9/22/12
I hold the secret to the fastest, widest ranging, longest lasting, and certainly most fun path to positive, global social change: Everyone in the world should take an improv class. I have never been more serious about anything in my life. If more people improvised, there would be no war.
Improvisation is the art of making it up. Winging it. Often used in theatre, it is the creation of a scene or tiny play that arises from a suggestion from the audience, a tiny play for which the script is made up on the spot. If all you can think about right now is "Whose Line Is It Anyway?," then please allow me to elaborate. In order to be good at improv, you must adhere to a few pretty stringent rules. You must listen to others. You must agree with what's going on, and respect those you're working with. You must: Get along. Work together. Be fearless. Show up with energy. Be willing to look silly and even fail. Your job, while improvising, is to put yourself in the other person's shoes, and make them look good, and more than anything you must learn to obey the precept: Don't be a dork. As a result, a completely delightful by-product of improv is a set of unbelievably great skills for citizenship. Those who improvise become nicer, more informed, more interesting, more interested people. Full disclosure: There is a down side. Improv will make you realize how awful we humans are to one another. It will point that out to you every time someone begins speaking while someone else is already speaking, and make vivid who in your life is or is not listening. You will see the fear-driven, selfish, self-aggrandizing motivations behind what everyone is saying and doing as they interrupt one another. Once you are exposed to improv, Thanksgiving dinner with your family will become more unbearable than it has ever been. I am an actor. I make my living improvising. But improvisation's beneficial impacts can and will help anyone, in any profession, of any age, in any circumstance. Seriously. We've taught this to prisoners - prisoners in prison - and they have raved about the good it's done in their lives. Surely it can help you too.
David La Graffe