In this workshop, we’ll create a safe and supportive space in which to have some serious fun. We’ll play theatre-games, do some spontaneous writing and tell our stories. If you’re new to this, the workshop provides a gentle introduction to the landscape of your own imagination. If you’re an experienced writer, visual artist or performer, here’s a chance to re-ignite your creativity in a small group and discover something new.
The high-stakes energy that comes when we have no conscious idea what we’re going to say or do next inspires our natural creativity more than any “technique” I’ve learned in fifty years as a performer/writer.
I recently heard the economist and author Tim Harford tell a story that’s a great example of the power of improvisation: It’s 1963, Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his aides have prepared a speech he’ll deliver to a quarter of a million people and that will be televised, live. According to Harford, as he spoke,
“…King looked down at his script. The next line was pretentious and limp: ‘And so today, let us go back to our communities as members of the international association for the advancement of creative dissatisfaction.’ He couldn’t bring himself to say the words, and so instead, he started to improvise: ‘Go back to Mississippi. Go back to Alabama…’ Behind him stood his friends and colleagues. They knew that King had stepped away from his script, and at the moment of maximum danger and maximum opportunity, the climax of his speech , he was looking for something to say — something that would touch the people there at the Mall, and people watching across the country.
‘Tell ’ em about the dream , Martin,’ yelled the singer Mahalia Jackson. It was a reference to something Dr. King had been talking about over the previous months as he preached to church congregations – a dream of a brighter future, in which whites and blacks lived in harmony. And so, facing the television cameras and the expectant crowd, responding perfectly to the situation, Martin Luther King began to create on the fly one of the most famous speeches of the century.
He spoke of his dream that ‘one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood… that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.’ Normalcy, Never Again was forgotten. King’s impromptu words provided the conclusion to a speech that shook the twentieth century. That speech would forever be known as I Have a Dream.”
– Tim Harford, Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives (pp. 114-116). Penguin