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You Are In a Safe and Warm Place

This post originally appeared on the USS Rock ‘N Roll blog on January 9, 2012:

The more I learn, the less I know. Or the less sure I am about what I thought I knew, which is similar but not the same thing.

Last night I was at a birthday party for some friends at a bar called the Grafton in Chicago’s Lincoln Square neighborhood.  It’s a bar with a good draft list, sturdy dark wood furniture, and a great feel. I was talking with a guy about the experience of coaching my first Harold team, which I started doing in October.  This guy was saying that coaching had surprised him in that the ten people on the team do not improvise or understand improvisation in the same way he does. So when he gives them feedback he has to remember to communicate in a way that fits their individual needs.

He said this like the notion that people aren’t all like him was a bold realization or an epiphany. It was difficult for me to suspend my judgment, probably because I am reminded of that fact constantly.[1] I am so acutely aware that other people’s experience is different from mine (and inherently valid) that if I encounter any difficulty translating my thoughts and experiences into their vocabulary I can lose the thread of what I believe to be true.

On Tuesday night the team I’m coaching had their fifth show. They killed it. Beforehand I told them some things my (and the dandy’s) first Harold coach POB would say (which I more or less tell them before every show): that I wanted to see an opening that’s totally different from what I’ve seen them do before, three untouched two-person scenes in the first beats, and soft or creative group edits.[2] Then I said to have fun and just do whatever they wanted, which they laughed about because that was their response before their previous show and the opposite of what I had just said. Contradiction humor! Continue reading

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