Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Category: applied improv (Page 1 of 3)

Saying Yes doesn’t mean never saying no

I have been a staunch advocate of living by the improv philosophy of saying YES. It has changed my way in the world, defined my workplace, strengthened my relationships and created a space for the enormous and powerful energy of creative exchange to take place. It has helped me listen, encourage, build bridges, go with the flow, see others, be in the present and, most importantly, counter the instant negativity of a default no. It has also been hard work for someone as totally opinionated and judgmental as I am. Saying yes against every fibre of instinct to say no when people seem stupid, lazy, defensive and opportunistic and arrogant (civil servants and bank people are a good example) is a challenge; I cannot lie. Saying yes is an attitude of ‘can do’. It is solution driven. It makes whoever you are saying yes to part of the team. And it is full of positive power.

Now here is an interesting notion. I have been reflecting on 2014 and why it has been such a wonderful, successful (in my own terms), and satisfying year for me, and the answer is that I learned to say NO. Isn’t that ironic? Here are some of the things I said no to. I said no to work with a boss that I had been saying yes to for too long, which made me frustrated, angry and miserable. I said no to taking on stuff because there was nobody else to do it, and this meant letting go of a particular kind of resentment that resulted in feelings of liberation. I have said no to people who tried to get me to change my vision about a certain thing when I felt like I would be compromised. I said no when every last desire-to-please feeling, and desire-not-to-hurt impulse made me want to say yes in a particular situation, and even though there was drama, it was worked through and we arrived at some wonderful clarity. And I also learned to say no to myself, learning the willpower of healthy eating, amongst other bad habits.

Don’t get me wrong, I am still your default-to-YES girl. I have just discovered the personal boundary of NO. And I am loving the balance.

20 reasons why dogs are the best improvisers

photo 1. Dogs are always in the present. They are open and waiting, and entirely responsive.

2. Dogs don’t read between the lines.

3. Dogs think every offer is the most brilliant idea. Every. Single. Time.

4. Dogs are never pointlessly original.

5. Dogs offer the best support.

6. Dogs don’t get tired of the same game and they always play them as if it was the very first time.

7. Dogs have the most vivid imaginations. A fly is a drone, a ball is a runaway, a couch is an adventure island.

8. Dogs express joy in their entire bodies.

9. Dogs never scene steal on purpose.

10. Dogs are hilarious.

11. Dogs don’t bring their hang-ups to the game.

12. Dogs aren’t self-conscious.

13. Dogs trust their instincts.

14. Dogs are connected to their emotions.

15. Dogs don’t plan in advance.

16. Dogs don’t hold onto their own agendas.

17. Dogs know how to play “yes let’s!”

18. Dogs love team action.

19. Dogs love.

20. Dogs can handle all notes afterwards.

Soap-a-thon and a trip


We decided to paint our lounge and dining room, which meant moving pretty much all of our stuff around. This meant an unexpected trawl though old photos yesterday, and I discovered a box full of ancient TheatreSports ones. Sadly, there are many of some occasions, times and people, and none of others. But it has taken me through the times, since I arrived in CT at the end of 1993 to run our first TheatreSports workshop, at Kasteel Players’ venue in Harrington Street. Our first run at The Dock Road Theatre that December was with a team who came especially from Jozi, our crazy sessions at Eauver The Top in Kalk Bay, The Light Fantastic in Muizenberg, The Purple Turtle, On The Side at Artscape, and now The Intimate and Kalk Bay Theatre. I remember (some more clearly than others) tours to Grahamstown, Knysna, Hermanus, Orlando Florida, and corporates from the hills of the Drakensberg to wine farms to weird lounges. Birthdays and barmies. Schools and fundraisers. Church halls and voorkamers. Australia and Improvention. Natalie’s Circle of Love FUNdraiser. 2 Fleur du Cap awards. Our first Soap-a-thon last last year, and our first improv fest at the beginning of this year. And of course there is tons more that I am not mentioning.

I have met amazing people, workshopped in extraordinary circumstances, performed zingers and dingers, made best, best friends, and mostly had my faith lifted by the extraordinary thing that improv is.

And to the future. The nearest thing is Saturday’s 15 hour Soap-a-thon to raise funds for Rape Crisis. Then, a trip to an improv festival on Reunion Island in the first week of December. What an amazing, beautiful and special thing to have in my life.

The Official New Courses Press Release

We Improguisers, best known as the company who performs Cape Town’s best loved and longest running live improv show TheatreSports, will be running two fabulous and comprehensive improvisation workshops, starting on Thursday 6 September 2012, and running once a week for eight weeks.

One course will be Improv for Actors; aimed at taking trained actors through the aspects of improv that develop the skills of spontaneity, team work, characterisation, status, being present and truth, to name a few. The aim will be to get trained actors ready to perform both long and short form improv.

The second course, which will run concurrently, is for everybody. Do your friends and family tell you that you are funny? Was the last time you were on stage your school play, and do you miss it? Did you watch every episode of Whose Line is It Anyway? And think, “I can do that!” Have you seen TheatreSports and thought, “That’s what I want to do!” Are you a web designer, dog walker, gym instructor, radio announcer, or any other kind of somebody with a desire to improvise? Then this course is for you. It is a high impact, fast paced intro to improv that will make you feel fabulous. And, if you show promise, you could be invited to join the current team.

Course facilitators Megan Furniss, Tandi Buchan and Candice D’Arcy have returned from Improvention, a massive and inspiring Australian Improv festival, with the improv fire burning strong in their hearts and the vision of turning Cape Town into South Africa’s improv capital.

“We need a huge team of talented, committed improvisers to perform in all the formats, styles and shows we want to get going,” says improv veteran Megan Furniss. “We were so inspired, and saw so much, and back home we have an audience ready for new and exciting forms of improv”.

So, we want you! Contact Megan immediately to secure your place in either course, and to find out the finer details, like costs, times and venues.  cell:083 4403961 follow @meganshead and @theatresportsSA on Twitter

Beautiful, versatile improv work

As part of my pro-bono work I was asked to come and spend some time at The Homestead, a shelter for boy street children, and play some improv games with them. I was a little reluctant and unsure. I had no idea how much of the stuff they would respond to and what kind of concentration they would have. I arrived yesterday afternoon and found a motley crew of mostly teenage boys colouring in mandalas, an inspired project introduced by Debsalem, their whacky and awesome social worker.

I shouldn’t have worried. We gathered in the room after pushing furniture aside, and played and played. Yes, there were concentration lapses, language hiccups, and moments of frustration, and self-consciousness but hey, they were a bunch of twelve teenage boys and their social workers. I chose easy, fun games, lying games, physical games. Once they got the hang of it they started being creative. After about 40 minutes (about the length of a school period I guess) they were pretty much done.  When they were asked what they enjoyed about it one of the younger boys said he just loved laughing. And I guess that’s a big deal for street kids.

After doing a little debrief with Debsalem in her sanctuary of an office, she walked me to my car. Three of the boys were outside, washing her car. She turned to me with a huge smile and said, “they must have loved the session. Whenever they love anything they thank me by spontaneously washing my car!”

I left with a huge smile on my face. I realised that these boys had helped me overcome certain insecurities I had had about their access to this work. It really is positive, amazing stuff, for anybody. You just have to say yes!


Improv and the Proteas, and why I think they need TheatreSports

I was having a chinwag with Brett from TheatreSports on Monday night. He is the most passionate, dedicated and positive Proteas supporter, and we were discussing the game on Sunday between England and SA. Brett managed to put a positive spin on the shocking situation, saying that Sunday’s game was a good time for the Proteas to be shocked out of any complacency, and to make sure they rallied, took it seriously and got properly prepared for the competition. He still believes that a South Africa India final is on the cards. The thing about Brett is his commitment and faith.

When I was reminded of what a loyal and enthusiastic and believing fan Brett is I had a complete flash of what was wrong with the Proteas in general, and with the captain Graeme Smith in particular, and I want to help!

You see, for almost twenty years I have been teaching and imparting the rules and philosophy of improvisation. Aside from saying yes to every offer, the essence of teamwork is developed and practiced. A wonderful space is created which allows for the taking of risks secure in the knowledge that there are other people out there (your team) to support you and even save you and make you look brilliant. And mostly, its about commitment and trust. It’s real trust, free of blame, inspired by the knowledge that the parts that make up the team are brilliant and that the whole is even greater than the parts.

The reason why this improv stuff would be fantastic for a sports team is that so much of the game scenario is similar to improv. When a game starts there is no way to predict an outcome, or even what will happen next. Cricket or TheatreSports; it’s the same. Everyone has practiced the rules and their skills, and each member of the team knows what they need to do; but they don’t know the ‘how’ of any game. Without a failsafe plan A, a contingency plan B, and an emergency plan C, improvisation becomes the best way of doing things! It’s about quickly assessing the situation, having all the trust, taking risks, being supportive, having total commitment and positivity. It is what prevents a team from becoming negative, defensive and afraid. It is the difference between responsibility and response ability.

It is also the best way for everybody to love what they do, and share that love with their fellow players and the spectators. It allows for moments of unplanned brilliance. It opens the door to the art of possibility. It creates a team who fundamentally, truly believe that they can win.

I am not seeing that with Graeme and his team. It feels like they are an old fashioned collection of men, with old rules of engagement, old fears, old names hanging like albatrosses around necks (Brett warned me not to say the word), and lacking in the brilliant vision of winning. And it makes me nervous. Then I look for someone or something to blame. Then I’m in the downward spiral of the negative, alienating and fearful. I believe that is the worst place to be if you want to shine. For me, I see them breathing sighs of disbelief relief when they somehow manage to win, and acceptance when they lose. It should be the complete opposite. They should feel like they were always meant to win, and should be entirely disbelieving when they lose; as if it were almost totally impossible to consider.

If anyone has a contact to the cricket team let me know. When they get back I want to teach the boys to improvise.

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