Saturday, 18 March 2017

Six lessons Improv is teaching me

This week I finished an 8 week Beginner's Longform Improvised Comedy course with the Maydays.

Shortform improvisation revolves mainly around games - as you'd see in "Whose line is it anyways?" whereas longform has less structure, allowing a scene to unfold in any direction...

I can't even remember where the idea of trying out Improvisation came from - perhaps a recommendation that I see some on my trip to NYC (although I failed to actually get to a show!) planted some seeds. Then I ended up googling it when I got to Brighton, saw a free taster with the Maydays advertised, went along (back in November), and, well here I am now!

I wanted to do something that would develop my performance skills in preparation for my Fringe show, something creative and fun, but also wanted to learn how to cope better with unplanned situations: not just on stage but also in life. If I have a script, a poem, a plan, then I'm generally fairly confident. But if I have to come up with something on the spot - be that a speech or simply an answer to an unexpected question or a response to any kind of criticism or conflict - then I panic, shrink, seize up. As much as I'd like to be an easy-going person, I guess I'm not always very good at going with the flow.

So improv felt like it could be just the right thing. Of course, life itself is improvised - and for me the lessons learned on a Tuesday evening extend way beyond getting a laugh or playing a character.

Here are six 'lessons' that impacted me and that I hope I can build more into the way I 'do improv' AND the way I am in the world:

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Friday, 17 February 2017

February reflections (getting back into poetry)

The flat-shaking drilling of the flood defence work has paused and the sun has come out, a rarity for the two to occur together, it seems. So for the first time I'm sitting out on the decking of the "new" flat we're temporarily living in. Pausing, this Friday evening, with a coffee, and if I smoked I'd have a cigarette in a poetic sort of way.

This week seems to have flown by but has also been pretty significant, in a whole bunch of ways. So I don't want to let it slip by unappreciated. Actually I was up until 3am last night just kind of buzzing with it all, which wasn't particularly helpful but I guess it reminded me I'm alive and no day is the same (and I ended up watching Luisa Omielan's comedy show which is pretty brilliant!)

The main thing is I've performed poetry twice this week, for the first time this year. Both nights were really positive and have enabled me to start building connections and feeling like I am beginning my journey of 'getting back into the Brighton (and hopefully beyond!) scene'.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

One Thing (on Resolutions and being KIND)

On Sunday at my church community's gathering, we were encouraged to think about ONE THING that we were going to focus on this year. I think we all struggled to narrow things down, straight away at least five things popped into my head. And while life does generally require us to balance more than one plate, I think there is a lot of wisdom in choosing one thing, one word, one activity. That way when it comes down to a choice between two important ways to spend an evening - for example - you've got your one thing to measure that choice against. I just listened to another of the Minimalists' great podcasts, on priorities, and again, they were saying how having several priorities realistically means we probably won't get any of them done.

Maybe the obvious one for me, this year, is WRITE. There's also PHOTOGRAPHY and DANCE. Maybe CREATE is more apt --- and I think this has always been the issue, that I try to spread myself too thin, that perhaps I don't want to risk just focusing on one thing because I might miss out. Or #FOMO as I've recently learned (fear of missing out). That's been quite a clear thread throughout my life - from A-level choices (I was the only person at school who studied Maths, Geography, Theatre Studies and Biology) to seeming to prefer to have three jobs simultaneously. In the end, I never get very far. Maybe that's fine, and there's definite value in variety and being a bit of a generalist, but I would like to at least attempt the discipline of ONE THING.

Monday, 2 January 2017

2017, here I am (Or, 2016 wasn't all bad)

2017 is finally here. And I'm here with it.

The geeky side of me feels like 2016 is a much more satisfying number BUT maybe it's time for a prime - time for something a little different, a little unique.

And as has been said thousands of times, 2016 wasn't exactly golden in many ways. But in other ways of course it was. There were miracles and promises and new life and adventures and the plodding-on-faithful-sort-of-love just as there was disappointment and death and departures and sometimes despair. Like in any other year.

For us, as you already know, there's been rather a lot of change.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Follow (Happy Christmas!)

I was asked to write a poem about "Following" for a Christmas Carol Service.

The reference to Philip and Nathanael is inspired by John 1:43 in the New Testament.

Happy Christmas one and all, may you know peace and joy. x


We’re all following something

The leader
The teacher
The dotted path on the map
The road sign
The sat nav
The feeling in our gut
The worndown path
The light through the trees
Our nose
Our heart
The weakness in our knees
The scent of success
The sound of a loved one calling
The Youtube tutorial
The sound of a baby bawling
The crowd
The recipe
Someone who’s been there before
The recommendation
The end of the tunnel
The open doors
The compass
The moon
The illusive dream
The holy book
The general expectation
The lighthouse beam