Breaking Patterns

Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.- Edward de Bono

I like that quote. I just came across it while I was noodling around looking for something else. It reminded me of the workshop I did last night with the lovely Court Jesters in New Zealand. We explored Moving Bodies (Puppets as some call it). I asked the group to call out all the schtick and gags used.

The two I can recall right now are:

1/ comment on the movement they are doing or not doing

2/ direct your puppeteer to the movement you want

Then we tried playing scenes where you were not able to use this schtick. Someone outside of the scene just made a buzzer noise when they spotted it. It was really interesting to watch the players collide against this trained pattern. You could see in their eyes the difficulty, it was like some of the lost how to play the game. Some found it really hard to create a scene and others mentioned how it was hard to justify or advance without commenting. Now, I'm not saying the scenes were brilliant, but the exercise was really interesting!

I tried to recall my early days at the Moose and I remember playing Moving Bodies / Puppets without this schtick. Yet, to be honest, I've been playing it for so long with the 'get the laughs' component I can't remember the other way. That makes me sad.

I see so many games played in the exact same way all over the world. Why? ok, I know why. It gets laughs that way and people feel it was successful. But..we tell our audiences we make stuff up, created right here right now, never to be seen again and yet we do the same schtick and jokes as other groups all over the world.

Is improvising on auto pilot or in a set pattern really why you got hooked on this? Is this really what you want to do?

Perhaps for you yes.

For me, no way!

I fell in love with impro because of it's possibilities, unpredictability and surprise. The fun for me comes out of the unknown and the what just happened?

So if you got hooked for the same reasons as I did. Here is a challenge.

  • Make a list of the go to games, the ones you play all the time or the you think you play well.

  • Then make a list of what is the common schtick used in that game.

  • Take one game and the schtick list to a rehearsal/ workshop.

  • Try playing it without using anything on the schtick list.

  • Then report back here and share the game, the schtick list and what you discovered here for other people.

I'm sure as we break patterns most of the scenes will be clunky and difficult. But maybe...just maybe...we will learn something new?

Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.- Erich Fromm

Whose got the courage? 

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