Every since I got myself educated on the history of Improv, I’ve been wanting to connect with Gary Schwartz. He worked with both Viola Spolin and her son Paul Sills and I really like the direction he’s taken with Improv. (This article on spolin.com talks about some different paths in the evolution of Improv. I don’t see one as better than the other — any more than I see playing the guitar as “better” than playing the piano or writing fiction as “better” than writing poetry — but I feel more drawn to what he’s doing than what others are doing.)
A few months ago, I was reading Gary’s regular newsletter and I saw that he was having an Improv Retreat in January, 2018. I was reading it in November and, to my ADHD brain, a retreat in January was “a long, long way away.” So, I forgot about it.
I quickly checked his website and saw that there were 3 spaces left. I also saw that he wasn’t holding another workshop in the U.S. for the rest of the year. So, I wrote him a quick email introducing myself and explaining that I really felt drawn to Improv — not as a form of comedy, but as a way of bringing people together, creating a safe space to play, and work together on focus, on being present, on being enagaged and being (as they say) “in the moment.”
He encouraged me to come and so I did some quick shopping for plane tickets (I’m saving $400 by leaving from Chicago), cancelled a Sunday morning commitment (thank you, Greg and Faith, for being flexible), and pushed everything on my “to do” list back a week.
One of my goals for 2018 (not a Resolution, but a real, live Goal) is to become a better Improv leader and see if I can find more places to apply it.
This seems like a good first step.