Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: improv (Page 1 of 16)

Good News

Today has been a really good day from a creative point of view. There have been a series of signs that I am moving in a positive direction – not totally there yet, but moving certainly. I am working my way through getting funding for my trip to the US so I can be at the reading of my play Lost Property at the end of May, and I am preparing for a reading of it here at home before I leave (watch this space for more news of that). I am gearing up for the first ever proper performances of my piece The Deep Red Sea on the 20, and 21 May at the Alexander Bar and Café, and I am preparing for teaching a series of classes and workshops. Also, my favourite thing happens next week, also at the Alexander Bar – we are improvising from Monday to Friday in The Style High Club, a series of long form improv shows dedicated to style – film noir, SA soap, Austen, movies and musical, all made up on the spot.

But the best news of the day is that my rhyming children’s story has been picked up by a really big publisher and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I will share all the details as they evolve, but right now I am grinning, and giggling and delighted.

Working on Whiteness

I ran my first ever Working on Whiteness introduction conversation/workshop last night and I want to share many of the details. I want this to be the beginning of much more work of this nature, and so I want to explain it thoroughly so more people will feel compelled to attend, and will invite those who won’t be able to come to the conclusion for themselves.

I have made a deliberate choice to keep this work exclusively white. Ironically, POC are more comfortable and supportive of this. Friends I have spoken to have articulated how being black and having to explain over and over what their pain and anger looks and feels like to white people is exhausting and often futile. It is my opinion that white people need to do a lot of work before entering into the conversation on diversity. White people need better tools and more information to have those conversations. We need to start before those.

Anyway. The lead up to last night’s workshop was an invitation through email and on Facebook and Linked in to all white friends, connections, colleagues, associates and friends of friends, who live (or found themselves) in Cape Town to attend. I think I shared it personally with over 1000 people. Many people contacted me to say that they thought it sounded good but they were previously engaged/out of town and couldn’t make this one but would still like to come if there ever was another one. There will be.

There were eight participants. The evening was divided into improv games, storytelling exercises and facilitated conversation. And it was a gentle start in the right direction. Of course, the people in the room were already conscious that there were issues like racism, white privilege, white guilt, systemic racism and virtue signalling. What we unpacked was some of that.

We are like trapeze artists who could fall into the traps at any time. It is a lot of hard work, constant reflection, and deep listening to hear, see, feel, and stay on it and in it.

An earnest desire helps, but we have to keep pushing ourselves into the uncomfortable place of this work.

Here is some of what participants had to say.

“There is often resistance to having this kind of conversation informally in a group and if the subject of ‘whiteness’ comes up, the conversation can often become quite defensive.

I wondered (worried about) what would be asked of me in a workshop like this. I had been thinking in the privacy of my own mind about myself as a white person. The thought of going to a workshop to unpack whiteness was confronting, but I decided to go.

I am very glad I did. It was hugely worthwhile. Megan held the group expertly and led us though a number of really easy and fun exercises which were designed help us begin this conversation.

Once we began the conversation to look at our/my whiteness, it felt really easy and natural to do so in the environment that had been created. The feeling in the room felt very comfortable to me.

It was amazing to hear the thoughts of others in the group and good to share my own”. – L.S.

“When you finish a two-hour workshop and race conversation with a group of ten white people saying they could continue for another hour and want to sign up for an ongoing course, you know something special has happened. Megan Furniss’ ability to hold uncomfortable spaces gently while firmly pushing into the tough areas that desperately need to be talked about is key to this much-needed work. It was just the tip of a very large iceberg, but the fact that people paid to be in the room and were engaged for two hours with no sign of wanting to leave or stall was testimony to what we need to see so much more of.” B. A

Contact me if you want to start this, or even continue with this work.

Industrial theatre, storytelling, improv news

I am currently working on a 15 minute industrial theatre play around AIDS and HIV awareness. I have written the script and it is really entertaining. It has to be. Audiences have terrible AIDS awareness fatigue. This two-hander has a delicious format, really cute characters, and it is very honest and forthright. It has been commissioned by a client, but I would love to sell it on to anyone who wants to do something for AIDS day on December 1. Let me know if you’d like more info, or would like to book it.

I am also doing beautiful storytelling workshops. Improv and personal narrative come together in this fun, moving and connecting space, where people get to know themselves and each other better.

And of course there is pure improv. You need this in your workspace to revolutionise how you work as a team, be co-creative and understand how important it is to be present and and an active listener.

Lastly, and deeply personally, I am offering tarot readings, either in person or over Skype. Email me to book an appointment for this lovely, focussed look at an area of your life.

All queries on megan@improvision.co.za

Pete

I had a full week of improv teaching and facilitating last week, including running 5 short 1 hour and ten minute sessions for a school celebrating 2 days of end of term Art Jam. I worked with groups of between 8 and 14 students and we played warm up games and they learned some improv basics in a fun and interactive way.

In my second session of my first day I encountered Pete. I could see (it was obvious) that he was out of the ordinary. He struggled with eye contact and found it difficult to do the fun and spontaneous silly stuff when we went around in a circle, but he seemed to have a spark of enjoyment about what we had done and that was great.

After a fifteen minute break I got ready to receive another group, who were coming from doing something else entirely. Who should join this group? Pete. This time he was bolder and more silly. When it came to the final game (an interview game with two players playing the talking characters hands) he volunteered, sat down, and when I asked for an expert he announced that he would be an expert in Soviet monkeys. And that is what he was; confidently, loudly and hilariously. The teacher who had joined this group told me afterwards how delighted he was that Pete had participated and spoken up – he never says anything in class.

Pete was one of the first kids to arrive the next morning for the first session. He was becoming an expert himself. Funny, clever, silly and totally committed, he had an absolute blast. And so did I, watching him. He tried to come to the last class too he but was hurried off to the session on his schedule. I don’t know if it was any good for him.

But I was so chuffed to have had him choose my improv sessions. I saw the deep magic of it in practice.

Improvised Industrial Theatre

Two weeks ago I got an urgent call from a business consultant who was facilitating a big corporate seminar and workshop. She had been let down by a theatre company at the last minute and needed some industrial theatre as an intervention during the seminar. In under a week. Because of improv philosophy I said ‘yes’ first, of course I could help, and then I panicked about the how of it. Fortunately, because she has a theatre background she understood what I was talking about when I explained that a week was too short a time to write, cast, rehearse and produce a 20 minute play, and that I thought it would be a good idea to throw around a few concepts and get improvisers to play with the ideas; an improvised corporate theatre intervention.

She loved it and we spoke about meeting the next day to play with the ideas, messaging and goal of the piece. “Where are you?” she asked. At that moment we realised that she was in Joburg and I was in Cape Town. My heart sank and I started thinking about who I could recommend, but she threw a solution at the problem and suggested that if I knew improvisers in Joburg and could cast them remotely, I could come up and the job would be mine. I did, I went, was supported by brilliant Joburg improvisers, and it was a great success.

And it got me thinking. One of the big problems facing us as industrial theatre makers right now is that businesses don’t have the budget, even though there is the earnest desire. It is challenging to be asked to quote for a piece of industrial theatre when you know the client will be shocked by the cost. Clients expect to pay a couple of thousand R for theatre that in reality costs almost a hundred thousand R to make. I am asked a few times a month to quote and there is almost never any comeback.

So, how about a new product? A theatrical intervention that is explained up front as improvised? This is different from forum theatre, or role play, in that it is purely theatrical, but it is also potentially funny, a great breakaway, meaningful, and also tailor made to the situation. It is improvisation, but for a target group or audience. There is the element of risk, and even ‘failure’, but that is part of improvisation, and part of business. I think there is so much value in an audience being part of that experience. And the dual message is powerful too.

Any takers? Contact me on megan@improvision.co.za and tell me what you need.

Improv excitement

I sprang out of bed today with the happiest sproing because on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night I am going to be improvising with ImproGuise and we are doing a different improv format on each of the nights and this makes me very damn sproingy.

We are going to be playing our hearts out at my favourite theatre, The Alexander Bar, and we are on at 9pm and we want you to come and witness the fun and join in the laughter. On Thursday night we will be warming up with old school TheatreSports; short form, competitive improv games, with suggestions and scores from the audience. Friday night is reserved for our new format Tribute. We have only played this once before and we were transported by it. The first half is an improvised documentary about a made up band. Then, after suggestions for titles from the audience, we pay tribute to the band by singing four of their songs; all made up and never heard before. You need to be there to believe it. Finally, on Saturday night we’ll be doing SuperScene, where each player directs a scene using the other players, and the audience votes for which ones they want to continue seeing, until there is the last and final, winning SuperScene.

You know me; any opportunity to get my improv on. I am so, so sproingy. Please go here to book. The venue is tiny and you only have 3 nights to choose from. Yayayayayayyayayayyay!

PS. I was a little bit underwhelmed by the response from actors regarding my proposal for improv masterclasses. Maybe you want to come check out the show and then see?

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