By Lois Bell
Sheridan Senior Center
SHERIDAN — The brief definition of improvisation is “To invent, compose, or perform with little or no preparation.” Sounds like a skill many can use in business, right?
“What many people don’t realize is that improvisation helps us develop thought patterns that keeps things in order to solve problems and engage emotions,” said director/actor/producer Matt Davis. Davis will be conducting two improvisation workshops in May targeted to new learners age 55 years and older. The improv workshops are part of a series of activities ranging from sports to arts in celebration of Older Americans Month recognized in May.
The 2013 theme for Older Americans Month is “Unleash the Power!” recognizing the contributions of older Americans to their communities from civic duty to volunteerism.
Davis is a board member of the Civic Theatre Guild. The CTG is partnering with the Senior Center in offering the improv workshop.
Performers may quickly grasp the benefit of an improv workshop but who outside of theater can benefit from improv skills?
“Think of the scattered professor whose brain is thinking too fast ahead of his mouth. Improvisation techniques can help organize thoughts,” Davis said. “Improvisation is used extensively in technology fields. These skills create a collaborative effort.”
Many people may think of improv as a random or chaotic activity but there are three simple but strict rules in a serious study of improvisation.
1. Be fun to play with;
2. Serve the narrative, that is, “stick to the topic” and
3. No matter what is said, think “yes” and always make your partner look good.
Sounds like good advice for business teams.
Davis is qualified to direct the workshops with years of experience in performing, directing and producing a number of various one-act plays. A recent endeavor was his direction of “The Great American Trailer Park” musical under the CTG venue that was performed at the WYO Theater.
What intrigued Davis to teach two workshops to older novices?
“I’ve seen the plays at the Sheridan Senior Center and love the talent that is there,” said Davis. Davis hopes to attract people from technological, business and performance backgrounds.
To attract working students the two workshops are offered on May 19 and May 25 at the Carriage House Theater located on the Kendrick Mansion grounds in Sheridan.
The experience will give participants the feel of being on stage. There is a suggested contribution of $5 per person per workshop; participants may enroll in either one or both of the workshops. Both sessions begin at 2 p.m.
What does Davis hope participants will take away from his improv class?
“Getting the thrill of working and building trust in a group and using these skills in everyday life,” said Davis. “Improv skills are also great for storytelling to grandchildren! The rules of improv put all of the focus outside of oneself and the only way to keep the rules is to say ‘Yes.’ Improv is inherently collaborative and positive.”
“Everyone can benefit from improv,” Davis said. “All of improv is storytelling. Stories help us find order, solve problems, engage emotionally, collaborate and think metaphorically.”
Advance sign-up is required and can be done by calling 672-2240, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.