Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce invited fellow Mayday Heather and me to run an improvisation workshop at their recent annual conference. The theme of the day was “Adventure” and our session was titled “Dare to Improvise”
18 fairly nervous delegates appeared and for 17 of them it was their first time improvising. We set the scene by stressing that it was impossible to make a mistake during the session and that they were not expected or required to be quick, clever or funny. Most newcomers breathe a huge sigh of relief when they realise they are not going to be measured alongside likes of Paul Merton! We also drew some parallels between the process of stepping into the unknown without a script and running a business, both have strong elements of risk and uncertain rewards. Using warm ups and group games we built the trust and confidence level of the group fairly quickly and before they realised it the delegates found themselves improvising poignant, surprising and funny scenes. All this within 50 action packed minutes. It is always surprising and inspiring to see a group of strangers form bonds, create meaning and drama with each other and laugh until they cry simply by applying a few of the timeless improvisation techniques.
At the end of the conference we made our way to the Emporium Theatre where 3 more Maydays appeared and improvised 2 scenes from audience experiences that became songs. We then divided the whole room into two teams for a rap battle which raised the roof. It’s only fair that if we invite people to stretch and take risks that we ourselves walk the talk on stage.