How Improv. Theatre Taught Me to Embrace the Unexpected

by Marilyn Divine

Improvisation has given me skills that allow me to *make it work* (it being the surprises, and even disappointments, of life). Onstage, improvisers must be flexible, open, and ready to switch gears if the direction of the scene we have been having suddenly throws us a curve ball. If an airplane in the distance becomes an angry raccoon, we must justify this new information and incorporate it into our play.

Those skills, and that mindset, have carried over into the way I live my life every day. If I am going about my day, thinking that I am on a certain course of action, and something suddenly changes, my first reaction is Ok, make it work. I have learned to easily switch gears and to take my endeavor in another direction without freaking out or getting upset. This practice works wonders for a person's stress level and it often has stunningly positive results.

In improv. speak, everything is seen as an offer or a gift. Especially the unexpected. Learning to accept the events of my life in this way has helped me look at the world and at other people in a much more generous light. For an improviser, the scene is always unfolding exactly as it should. This knowledge has taught me to relax, and to let go of (at least some) pre-conceived ideas. It has made me more interested in getting more information and less interested in judging.

I both am and am not the same person that I was before I started down the improv path.  I invite you to give it a go, and see how it might change your life. Improvisation for Transformation will be meeting Mondays in August.

Marilyn Divine has been an ensemble member of the Brody Theater for 16 years, and an instructor in the Brody's Fundamentals of Improv class for 4 years. She has performed in festivals throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe.