Global Impro Blogs intro and menu

May 23 2019

Holly Stoppit
Image credit: GII

Hello and welcome to the Global Impro blogs introduction! There are a lot of blogs in this series (13 including this one), charting my experiences and learning through a 4-day international symposium on improvisation!

This blog will give you some context before laying out a menu of the other 12 Global Impro blogs. There's a mix of theory, practical explorations you can do at home alone or with others and personal reflections. I hope some of what I've written is helpful for you. 

Establishing The Frame

I received a Theatre Bristol 'TB Agent' grant to attend the Global Improvisation Initiative (GII) Symposium in London from the 15-18 May 2019; four days immersion in a global community of improvisers, academics, impro teachers and applied improvisation practitioners.

The GII are “ initiative to explore improvisation globally to validate and cross-polinate improvisational methodologies, theories, and techniques in all of its various forms” [from their website]. This was the second event of it's kind, the last one taking place in the States, two years ago. This year, GII teamed up with Middlesex Uni and Improbable Theatre Company (the team who have been organising Devoted and Disgruntled, Open Space theatre networking events around the UK for the last 15 years), to present two days of seminars and workshops, followed by two days of Open Space, make-it-up-as-you-go - along organic improvised conferencing.

The theme of the conference was 'Awareness.' and speakers came from all four corners of the globe. Their presentations, performances and workshops explored a wide range of topics including; gender and identity, engage with elders with dementia, civic engagement, theatre devising, business leadership, suicide prevention, education and artificial intelligence, as well as exploring issues around access to improvisation for marginalised people.

I was excited to have a chance to learn about what people are getting up to, particularly in the field of applied improvisation. I'm currently on a quest to make my work more accessible, so I was especially eager to meet people who are already exploring the questions around access and inclusion. 

I was also hoping to attend some practical sessions around embodied awareness. My work as a teacher / facilitator / dramatherapist is about holding a room full of people through a process, which I love, but I also love being held and guided through process, so I was looking forward to a bit of treat time for me.

Above all, I was keen to meet the other holders and leaders. It's been getting clearer to me lately that the key to sustainability in my life (and the arts, and the world in general) is collaboration! So this felt like a great opportunity to sow some seeds.

Welcome to The Global Improvisation Initiative Symposium

On a stiflingly hot day in May, in a huge, modern, glass-topped building, on a university campus in London, improvisers of the world unite! The opening panel, representing Middlesex Uni, the GII, and Improbable, are assembling themselves on the stage. They're late, but hey, we're all improvisers here, we all know that things seldom happen as we expect them to... They each launch their impro pearls into the arena, here's some that I managed to catch:

“Improvisation is at the root of being a fully functional human being.” 

“Improvisation encourages collaboration as opposed to competitiveness” 

“Together we can always create more.”

“Nobody enters a scene and doesn't have an impact on it – even if they don't say anything.”

“Improv is either growing or dying”

Looks like we're in for a ride! 

The Global Impro Blogs Menu

Consider this a choose-your-own adventure, see what jumps out at you and come with me into the wonderful world of improvisation! 

1.) Do you want to read about negative bias, consent in impro and safe space vs brave space? Then come to the Gender and Identity Panel Discussion

2.) Do you want to steep yourself in theory and try out some practical exercises to explore how improvised material arises from 1.) chance 2.) unconscious 3.) social emergence? Then come to 3 ways of surfacing, a seminar by Gunter Losel

3.) Do you want to answer some tough questions about your work and explore how we can create more of our own original material and replicate less? Then come to The Snake Eating It's Tail, a seminar by Patti Stiles 

4.) Do you want to hear about how racism shows up in impro and consider what we can do about it? Then come to a panel discussion discussing the challenges faced by BAME improvisers.

5.) Do you want to consider the place of improvisation in the revolution? Then come to the policy and social practice panel discussion

6.) Do you want to be part of a group discussion, exploring how we can make our spaces more inclusive? Come to a chaired discussion on access and inclusivity. 

7.) Do you want to move your body? Then come to RADICAL_CONNECTOR: Active presence and/in motion: Nonlinear dance training for all bodies with Marisa Godoy 

8.) Do you want to hear my experiences of the impact of Feldenkrais and it's connection with impro- then come to Awareness, Social Engagement and the Availability of Choice with Victoria Worsley 

9.) Do you want to find out if improvisation can be the answer to everything? Then come to the Future/Unknown, Interdisciplinary panel discussion 

10.) Do you want to hear about an interesting approach to collective storymaking? Then come to Koray Bülent Tarhan's 6 part story approach to co-created story making

11.) Do you want to find out about Open Space conferencing? Then come to the Open Space

12.) Do you want to hear how I decided it was time to leave the conference early? Then come to Regina Mendes' Dreams and A Heart session

Massive thanks to Theatre Bristol and their 'TB Agent' scheme, for funding me to be at the Symposium. Thanks to the Global Improvisation Initiative, Middlesex Uni and Improbable for making it happen and thanks to all the speakers and all the attendees I had the pleasure of meeting and learning from. 

Holly Stoppit menu