My friend, Regina, was saying that she thinks improv is therapy. Not like therapy, but therapy. And for the first time I’m seeing the parallels. Improv teaches you to trust your instincts, your own ideas, to say “yes” to your own impulses and feelings. Improv teaches you that you, your inherent basic nature is not only correct and right in every way, but also valuable. And improv also teaches you to respect other people and be kind and supportive to them. Doesn’t just teach about it, but makes you do it. So I guess it’s not that far fetched to say people get therapeutic results from learning improv.
I realized this tonight, when once again I found there was a moment in the show I was in where I had a strong impulse to do something, and I hesitated and wanted to check with people before doing it, and I should have done it. Realizing I need to trust my instincts, and that whatever they are is right for me, and that in an improv environment whatever I do will be supported, was very therapeutic.
The other lesson I learned from improv this week was that I need to just get out there and have fun with whatever I am doing. Fun always makes any situation better, more joyful, and more enjoyable to be in and to watch.
I’ve been getting these great lessons from improv, and even now, I need that reinforcement of constant exposure to improv to let the learning sink in and take hold. So all I can do when I am teaching (writing or improv) is be that voice, telling you you are fine exactly the way you are. And I have to believe it! No lip service here. I have find the good and special in people. What a job!
Of course, just like any healing method, especially an emotionally therapeutic method, everybody is different. One teacher may be perfect for one person, but horrible for a second person. So, I am careful now to get to know someone before recommending with whom they should work or whether they should even try improv. But out there somewhere is the right teacher for everyone. I do believe that! Someone who can help show you (through improv, writing, therapy, or something else) that you are perfect and right to be and feel the way you do, and show you how a bunch of other people, who are also perfect and right, can really enjoy playing with you and your ideas, and that you can create something of value.
I know that, after 6 years of doing improv, I trust myself and just let myself be me much more now. So, yeah that’s pretty therapeutic.
(If you are in Austin, there are links to a bunch of improv theaters and schools on the blog roll on the right side of the page, and I’m in two more shows at Coldtowne Theater this week with Umami, 8:30 pm Monday 6/27 and 8:30 pm Wednesday 6/29, both free.)