(A pic from my most recent Moonshot show. Pic by Jasper Sams.)
I had the pleasure of teaching the drop-in class for Spectacles Improv Engine in Fullerton, CA on Friday 02/16/19. The following is a summary of what happened, what I learned, and with some shout outs in the end. Enjoy!
Why I Love Emotional Intelligence
Thanks to everyone who came to the drop-in focused on Emotional Intelligence! I’ll try to do a quick debrief here for the people who missed it but were interested in the workshop.
Basically, Emotional Intelligence (EI) is our ability to read another person’s emotional state while being aware of our own, and then responding and adjusting accordingly. There are better definitions out there, and this is one I made up specifically to be used for improv scenes.
EI is something we use every day in how we interact with each other and how we manage the relationships that are important to us. It’s a term you see used a lot in books and articles about corporate leadership and team work (stuff I love to read).
I realized that years of doing improv made me pretty good at reading people’s emotions and reacting to them in a way that wasn’t trying to change them or judge them, but to just accept them as they are and continue to interact from there.
Once I realized that connection — my love for studying EI and all the years of doing improv cultivating this skill in me — I decided that it would be something cool to teach, at least to try to teach!
We did some exercises that were focused on people reading each other’s emotions while having an interaction.
For example, we did one-line dinner scenes where every person could only say one line at a time and could only respond to the thing that was just said. Every line should impact you, stimulate your response, and from that interaction, we could figure out the dynamic of a relationship.
I side coached a lot to get people to not miss any big pieces of information that were dropped suddenly in the scene. I did it not because I was trying to steer the scene in a certain direction. Rather, I did it so that students learn to become aware of not letting any big piece of information go unnoticed — basically to learn to say “That’s interesting,” and explore from there, or call “Bullshit” and push the topic further if you’re watching Dingleberries play (every Monday night at the Pack Theater at 10:00pm).
At the end, I asked each participant what they could tell me about the other interaction based on how they experienced the scene. People came out with some deep awareness of the characters they were playing off of! We then reflected that you can create an interesting scene just by going one line at a time and constantly reading each other! It was a great day for learning!
Thank You & Shout Outs
A lot of this awareness of playing emotional while being aware and in response to my scene partner came from years of Specs training from Matthew Thomas, Samuel Forbes, Joey Shope, and Josh Nicols.
I know I would not be the improviser I am today without the dozens of drop-ins I did with these guys over the years — thank you.
In fact, you can catch the very last Specs drop-in Josh Nicols is teaching this Friday 02/22/19 from 12pm-2pm at Stages Theater. If you haven’t been to a drop-in in a while, you should check it out. If you have never studied with Josh before, this is your chance to see why he’s so great. Just come and experience it for yourself. Thanks for everything, Josh!
Also, there are shows happening at Specs tonight from 9pm to 11pm, and shows next weekend as well with the premier of IFL Season 5! I highly implore you to check it out! Also, I’ll let you all know when I’m teaching a drop-in again! Have a great Saturday!