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David Evans is a former Improv Conspiracy student and performer who moved to Sydney last year. Rather than come back and play with us, he wrote a fantastic article for our blog. We'll take it!
No one teaches you how to manage people. It’s not a skillset likely taught alongside your first job possibly folding jeans at the GAP, lifeguarding at the local pool or if like me, spending your summers scooping ice cream for hungry tourists. The skills that teach us how to inspire, instruct, trust, and motivate others is a talent that somehow gets lost in our current education system and absent from the majority of our professional development training. If you’re lucky, you work a job for a number of years, follow the rules set up by some senior team and wait for your time to crawl up the ladder. In the meantime you pick up the habits of your previous managers whether good or bad and typically adapt their methods on how to communicate information, lead others to success and how to support people through uncertainty during stressful times. It’s a continuous cycle and normally a broken one where the blind are left leading the blind.
I’ve spent 12 years working in professional environments and found myself either at the mercy of really bad management or in the glow and awe of some brilliant ones. When I recently began to lead my own teams again I found myself unconsciously drawing upon my improv experiences and the lessons learned from performing Harolds again and again to help influence and strengthen my own people management skills. For anyone who’s taken improv classes or a weekend workshop you quite often hear about how the skills highlighted in those courses are applicable not only for the students who dream of one day being on SNL, but also for those who dream of being CEO. It soon became clear to me after aligning my personal management style with the principles of Improv, I became a much better manager. Within days there was a noticeable difference in the daily interactions of my team as people engaged with each other instead of hiding behind email. The overall mood in the studio seem to lighten as people slowed down and listened to each other. Productivity increased as individuals worked together to accomplish tasks instead of working independently. The changes were profound.Continue Reading
Jayden Masciulli took The Improv Conspiracy's Level 1 Intensive course in January 2015. He was gracious enough to write an article about his experiences!
"YES, AND... WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING?!" - MY FIRST WEEK OF IMPROV
By Jayden Masciulli
I signed up to The Improv Conspiracy’s Level 1 intensive workshop on a whim. I had only been to one Harold Night, and while I loved every manic second of the show, it never really occurred to me that I would - or could - actually do it.
Maybe it was the liberating feeling of graduating from uni a few weeks earlier. Maybe the haze of New Year’s resolutions got the better of me. Maybe I was drunk and looking for new and creative ways of embarrassing myself in public (actually, that was the exact reason. It was New Year’s after all). Regardless, when I first spotted on my Facebook feed the ad for TIC’s upcoming workshops, a little part of my brain fired up – the part responsible for my irrational need to make others laugh, and my ability to absolutely nail 21st birthday speeches on cue. Maybe I could do this.
I had no idea what to expect on the first day. All that self belief I had when I triumphantly typed my credit card details online had vanished. I’m not an actor. I’m not a fan of being the centre of attention. I’m not even that funny. What the hell was I doing?Continue Reading
I should probably start this by saying that the following will not apply to every scene, it may not be how you want to play as an improviser, it might be something you vehemently disagree with, and it certainly will not help you choose the perfect Christmas present for your mother (it’s probably something that smells of lavender. Mums love anything that smells like lavender. Get your mum some lavender).
All of this has been knocking around in my head recently, and I thought I might share it with you, because it might help your scene work, it might make things easier for you, or it might just lock a little bit more down for you.
Along with a sense of play and fun, we’ve been looking a lot at mirroring in Level 1, and there’s a pretty simple reason for that – it’s a really quick and easy way of connecting with you scene partner.Continue Reading
At about the age of eight, I developed an insidious trait – perfectionism. On the surface it sounds good. And it’s self-fulfilling – perfectionists tend to be pretty good at a lot of stuff, in my experience.
It probably had something to do with some mean school yard kids. To protect myself, I found a source of constant approval where no one could tease you – getting everything right. And I found another trick – avoid the things you get wrong. Then they can never say anything bad about you. Ever.
This carried me all throughout school, where my perfectionism was rewarded again and again, ultimately with a very high score (that, meanwhile, was well beyond the score I needed for the course I wanted to get into, but never mind). It continued into adulthood; at work, performance reviews were rarely negative. In retrospect, perhaps my managers sensed the need to limit negative feedback with me. Nonetheless, the feedback loop favouring perfectionism continued and I built my self-esteem and self-worth on ongoing and unblemished success. I loved hearing about athletes who had never lost a race, actors who only chose good movies. This was the sign of a great human. People who were always getting it right. These were the people to be.Continue Reading
This week (5 – 12 October) is Mental Health Week, and it got me thinking about improv and my mental health, and how the two are connected.
They say that one of the best things for improving your mental health is to exercise. Well, ok, but I don't really like exercise because it usually involves sports. Or lycra. What I DO like is improvising! Fortunately it seems to be good for me and as a bonus there's zero lycra involved.
Sure, when I first started improvising I probably went backwards anxiety-wise, because I was so hung up on whether I was doing a good job, being an idiot (read: myself) in front of a room full of strangers, and most of all I was terrified of letting go of control.Continue Reading
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