Community Improv 101 – Trust Uncertainty!

by Johanna Bundon

We are nearing the halfway point of HIP: Heritage’s Improv Project. Through this project, Jayden Pfeifer and myself (Johanna Bundon) are guiding a series of improv workshops to four organizations in the Heritage Community. We have met with groups from Downtown Browne’s Emergency Youth Shelter, Thomson School, SOFIA House, and Phoenix Residential. The improv workshops will continue through until the end of April.

Today I will reflect a little bit on what we are doing and learning in the workshops:

The groups we have met with have all been very lively and energetic. They have showed so much energy and excitement. But naturally, they were also a little bit shy in the beginning. This shyness is normal. How can you feel certain of yourself if you don’t know what will be asked of you?

Improv is based on the idea that we can create expression without a plan in hand. So, a big part of improv is feeling relaxed while not knowing what will happen next. In improv, we are asked to trust uncertainty!

Some fears that often come up in workshops are:

  • How will I know what to do?
  • What if I make a fool of myself?
  • What if this experience is weird?

We all experience similar worries when we are asked to engage in a new activity. One way to calm these concerns is to talk about them. Once we start giving voice to our uncertainties, we often realize that other people in the room have similar concerns. When our fears are spoken, accepted, and even echoed, it becomes easier to move forward, trusting that there will be no judgment from others. Likewise, when we hear to the concerns of others, we want to help them. We can show them, through out actions, behaviors that indicate acceptance and support.

Once the desire to support and accept one another is alive in a group, improvisation can start to happen!