This month improv blog The Phoenix Remix has been celebrating women in improv. (You can see their interview with me here.) Whilst I enjoy improvising with all genders and offer my workshops to everyone, there is something to be said for focusing on less represented groups.
When I worked in communications I occasionally attended conferences for marketing and advertising that were specifically for women. I often agreed with other attendees who argued that in order for inequality to really change, men must be included in the conversation. After all, a lot of the change needs to come from them! By separating out are we really improving or just excluding ourselves? This is a debate that often comes up in improv and the arts too.
There was always something really uplifting about being in an all-female environment. The organisers explained that for a lot of the issues being discussed, most women feel more comfortable expressing themselves in front of other women rather than feeling the need to explain themselves to the men in the room. I get that. And that definitely applies to improv workshops too.
Feeling relaxed and safe in your environment is key when trying new things and that can be difficult when you feel like you're representing more than just yourself.
As well as women-only improv classes, I feel there has been an increase in workshops for BAME performers, LGBTQ+ community or those with English as a second language and I'm assuming for performers with disabilities too. Not only is this great for making improv more accessible, it is first and foremost very beneficial to individuals.
You may not always feel the need to improvise with only a particular group but having the option is extremely valuable. This goes for those trying improv as a hobby as well as performers.
Having been involved in a number of women-only improv projects I am certainly happy to lead a bespoke improv for business workshop for the female members of your team.* I am also very open to creating sessions for any particular group but may bring on board or recommend another improviser who has more relevant experience.
I really believe improv is for everyone but in order for everyone to feel a part of it, we must explore different ways of learning, teaching and supporting. Whether it's in improv or business, accessibility and diversity should be a priority.
*I would like to clarify that when I say "women" or "female" I of course refer to anyone who identifies as such.
Charlie Vero-Martin of Improv for Business UK provides bespoke workshops for your teams. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org