The Leela Bubble
By Heather Urquhart
The Maydays Improv Retreat is my happy place, no doubt about it and this year more than ever I was desperate to cross the magical threshold into Leela living. The previous 2 months had been crazy busy and I’d come out of a 4 show Edinburgh Festival, straight into a 2 week run of a scripted show, a weekend teaching musical improv to Birmingham’s Box of Frogs, finally finishing up in the Maydays biggest corporate undertaking to date (We did a gig alongside Britain’s got talent winners Flawless – but that’s another story). All of this crammed around bootcamp style rehearsals for the start of the Showstopper’s west end run. I was more ready to hang with my Maydays homies on a hippy commune than you’d believe.
All of us had been desperate to get there infact – to throw off the shackles of our smartly dressed previous weeks executive work into what I suppose we all perceive to be the opposite.
This got me thinking a lot about the difference in our behaviour in certain professional spheres. Corporate work versus the Retreat. Sensible versus silly. Professional versus fun.
My conclusion is that there shouldn’t really be any difference.
When we first used to run the Retreat 7 years ago, we would rock up with no plan at all. We wouldn’t know what classes we were teaching or where or with who. Classes would be cancelled or overfull and if I’m honest I’m not even sure half of us knew what we were on about. Before the days of Joe Samuel being our musical director we even had a musician who would turn up with books of Abba music and we’d be unknowingly making up new words to the chord pattern of ‘The Winner Takes It All.’
These days, it’s a whole different ball game. The class schedule is organised well in advance to incorporate all the stuff we learn as teachers throughout the year and to make sure the numbers and rooms are balanced. This year Jules and I went up a day early and made signs, rotas and set up a reception desk. Even lamination happened! Becoming more organised has absolutely made the joy and play even greater at the retreat and being more grown up and professional each time just adds to the experience.
Meanwhile I also feel the reverse about the ‘corporate’ work that we do. In the past, I’d suffer imposter syndrome in those environments, fearing I’d be found out for being a fraud. After the last few years of working with countless organisations and businesses with the Maydays I realise the opposite is true. We are hired for our energy and joy and ability to say yes and mean it and consequently bring the power of yes into other people’s lives.
When I am at Leela I feel the most free I think I ever do. I barely wear shoes, I’m creative all day. Everyone talks and smiles and hugs more freely than they do in ‘real life’ and the connections we make there last for life both with new friends and cementing the bonds with old ones.
So this year instead of leaving the bubble of Osho Leela, I’m trying to keep a bit of it in my heart the whole year round.