There is a storytelling-inspired improv game called “I used to be _____ but now I am ______” that we use to warm up a group and at the same time develop ideas and character to explore in scenes. It goes like this: if the group is taking place over zoom, everyone leaves their camera on but covered by something, so all the players’ “boxes” are onscreen but dark. The group leader demonstrates by removing their camera cover and saying a true thing in the format “e.g. I used to be____ but now I am _______; e.g. “I used to be…


Improv is the art of making things work, taking stock of “what is” and imagining “what if,” sometimes in the same beat. As new information or needs emerge, improvisers adapt. The imaginative agility that improv cultivates is just one reason it is increasingly recognized as an essential mind and skill set for the pace of change and creative demands of the 21st century workplace. One current, cultural “what is” that calls for corrective action is the fact that 70% of people who are blind or low-vision and could otherwise work are unemployed, largely because of bias and misinformation about their…


When Kelli Dunham’s life partner was quite ill with metastatic ovarian cancer, she called her from the grocery store to ask if there was anything she could bring for her. “She responded ‘How about a quarter pound of the will to live?’” says Dunham. “I took a deep breath and said ‘honey, I’m at Trader Joe’s and you know how they are. They only had organic and now it’s all gone.’ She responded ‘Aw, nuts I had a coupon too.’ And later that evening, we had a very hard but very needed discussion about Heather’s end of life choices, a…


Teens are in a process of continuous emergence, their “right now” an ongoing story that is like an improvisation in that they are building a bridge to their future while walking on it. Because the teen brain is being rewired, and their sense of self as well as view of the world is taking shape, it is a time of great opportunity to develop talents and pursue interests, and of great risk if chronic stress, trauma, loss or other negative conditions are present. Wants, needs, impulses and emotions are heightened at the same time the reasoning part of the brain…


There is an improv game called Search Party, in which each player is impacted by a request from another player, e.g. Player 1 initiates by making a specific request to another player, and in that initiation identifying who the characters are to one another.
Player 1: “Dad, I don’t have a nice suit to wear to prom. I’m hoping you can help me get one somehow.”
Player 2: Yes, of course! First I have to make a call.
Player 3 joins “Dad,” who has to assign a role to this new character and ask them for something he needs in order…


A new documentary called Cher And The Loneliest Elephant that premiered this week on the streaming service Paramount+ captures the best and the worst of humanity. The worst: cruelty and neglect of an elephant named Kavaan who lived alone, shackled, in a small space for over 20 years. The best: an enormous collaborative effort to free and transport this massive animal across the entire continent of Asia. And, of course, Cher. Cher makes everything better.

The timing of this story coming to our tablets, phones and laptops could not be better. Like this suffering elephant, we have all been struggling…


Its a Sunday night about 9:30 pm in early June of 2020. A certain grim acceptance that the pandemic is not going to end soon has given rise to an underlying current of anxiety in my body and household. Suddenly my husband and I are bolted from our TV-watching comfort coma by a blast from both our phones that a tornado has been spotted in the area. Not a tornado “watch.” A “get in the basement now” warning. My stomach drops as I stare at the phone in disbelief, my fight-flight-freeze instinct stopped at freeze. My husband is all “fight.”…


As we step into the larger world after a challenging year of change imposed on us by rapidly shifting social realities, we have all been improvisers on the stage of life for many months, innovating solutions to problems on the fly and crafting our days without the familiar structures. As dark and difficult as these days have been, being forced to do things in an entirely new way can lead to sometimes startling discoveries. This is something we can train ourselves to look for, a practice for which improv training is uniquely powerful. Research shows that the philosophy and creative…


An article in the Nov. 22 New York Times titled “Abandon Your Thanksgiving Script” opens with the line “”This is the year for an improvised Thanksgiving.” It is a helpful read for many reasons, mainly because we all may need some encouragement to keep doing what is necessary to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus. We have to think and behave in new ways to manage an entirely new situation, and this can collide with our desire for the holiday rituals and familiarity that provide psychological comfort and happiness. …


When Helena Lewis performs her poems and monologues in solo shows, populated by characters inspired by real people she encounters in her work as a Doctor of Social Work and Licensed Certified Addictions Counselor, the audience has an inside view of realities they might otherwise never confront. In her award-winning show Call Me Crazy: Diary Of A Mad Social Worker she tells the truth about systems that underpay and overwork professionals who provide essential human services. In Shenanigans, she explores grief, death and loss through the lens of her mother’s death and the ways it reshaped her family. Her most…

judetrederwolff

LCSW, CGP, MT & Certified Practitioner of Applied Improvisation, consultant/trainer and writer/performer. www.lifestage.org, www.mostlytruethings.com

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