The Power of Improvisation: Yes, AND!

November 8, 2013

I learned from Gould faculty member Anne Rothacker that the central idea of group improvisation is “yes, AND”.

Anne and her co-director, Colin Penley, brought this alive last week in their improvisational production of Shakespeare’s Scottish Play (aka Macbeth, but it’s bad luck to say “Macbeth” in reference to the play…guess I’ll take one for the team.).

A perfect Halloween choice, the production was audacious, brave, and spooky.

The students spent weeks studying the text, discussing its implications, riffing, exploring, personalizing, finding meaning, and imagining the settings.

And it was different every night and ranged across the campus, translating medieval Scotland into the landscape and buildings of Gould, leading the audience across the grounds, into attics and other recesses that few have seen.

Since the audience surrounded the performers in intimate settings, we could see the intense work going on: listening, watching, processing, anticipating, and creating – all in the service of the Bard’s great work. Those fine brains were firing on all cylinders as they carried this awesome responsibility!

I was blown away.

A great school should have “yes, AND” at its core. It’s an idea of connectedness, responsibility, and befriending failure that speaks directly to our mission of preparing  students for lives of purpose, action, excellence, and compassion.

In this spirit, I think you’ll enjoy the talk below. It’s a funny and thoughtful talk titled “The Way of Improv” by Dave Morris.

 Yes, AND!



One Response

  1. Avatar Nancy says:

    Yes, the improv at Gould has been great to see. Thanks for posting Dave Morris and “The Way of Improv” – watching it was a good way to start my day.

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