Teachers, Leave Those Kids Alone!
How improv helps me revisit my childhood punk fantasies
I grew up reading The Beano and, as a wee Scottish lass, worked my way through my dad's old annuals of The Dandy, Beezer, Oor Wullie and Broons. I therefore had a delightful time at the latest Somerset House exhibit, "Beano: The Art of Breaking the Rules".
The trip down memory lane got me thinking about my early brushes with anarchy and creativity and how it perhaps got me on the path to improv. I don't know why I was so surprised that this exhibit was exactly what it said it would be: an exploration of breaking the rules and the surprising number of rules behind you must follow to do so!
Despite loving this comic full of pranksters and rule breakers growing up, I was (and still am) an extremely anxious, rule abiding pupil. But this wasn't unusual. As editors of The Beano have stressed throughout the decades, their unruly characters don't create unruly readers. Instead it gives them a way to escape safely into a fantasy of riotous behaviour. Indeed, dangerous behaviour in The Beano is often met with punishment or comeuppance, probably more so than in Peppa Pig! In fact, The Beano will have seemed quite tame compared to most other 90s kids entertainment.
But as the exhibit demonstrates, The Beano was for many an introduction to punk culture. It sows the seeds of questioning the adult world and oppressive systems into the minds of kids wanting to read about wire-haired dogs. This is how you get head girl swots having public fall outs with headteachers and leaders of the Catholic Church... But more on my life story later.
Getting into improv offered me the same escape I craved as a child reading The Beano. I loved being part of a gang of mischief makers, poking fun at authority and creating rules even sillier than the ones in the real world without anyone actually getting hurt or in trouble.
It's for this very reason I think improv is a great addition to any company in need of a shake-up. Sometimes we need to let loose a bit in order to get closer but doing so in a work environment can be dangerous!
In my improv workshops I give you permission to get silly. I won't let anyone get hurt and you can't get in trouble because no one is the boss... Improv is very democratic. It's a level playing field that only favours those who jump in with both muddy feet.
A high-energy improv workshop can release tension and fan the flames of creative energy. A bit of disruption to the routine can be necessary for finding balance.
And if you are the boss, don't worry about your team turning into a bunch of rag tag ruffians. This is also an opportunity for you to play and show your wilder side.
So why not shake things up a little by throwing out the homework and giving your team extra playtime? You might even learn something!
Get in touch about bespoke online and in-person improv sessions here.