Fear, inadequacy, and a deep longing for learning

Published by ShawnKinley on

Dorothy Norman (1930) by Alfred


Student Post

Fear, inadequacy, and a deep longing for learning

Cindy Pittens – Week 1

The first week of Improvisation School in Calgary has already passed. It lived an exciting life for 7 intense days and then it suddenly slipped away. Gone. In a split second. Today we have it’s farewell-picnick in the park.

Before I say goodbye to these fine 7 days; because of course we have to let go, to be open for the next chapter in improv-life, I’d like to review what this week has brought me.

To start with fear. Well, I probably brought that to myself. I realise once more, how I struggle in new groups, to feel safe. And of course – the teacher – THE TEACHER. How to relate to the teacher?
If you want to learn, you have to be open to new thoughts and experiences. If you are scared, you don’t want any of that. Still wanting to show I deserve their attention. And the human need to be fully understood and seen. Which of course is somehow impossible in a lifetime, let alone, to realize this within a week. Off we went!

Starting off most days with games like clapping with names, that we all find so much fun! (hmm) Conversion game (in Holland we call it Mind Melt), where we as we create chaos and still move on, trying to allign with eachother. TINA, a game to practice elegance: be short, quick and specific. The games in which we all the time fail. And you still have to have fun! Be playful! Making me feel inadequate and incompetent. Perfect start for an 8-week course in improv!

Small voices that take over. What are you doing? STAY CALM! Be faster! No, but really, what are you doing? You are an improv teacher. You should know this stuff. Maybe this is not for me… What? That’s not an option. Is it? What is happening to me? Arrggghh…

At the same time, absorbing every word that comes out of Shawn Kinley’s mouth. What exactly is he saying? What does that mean? How do I apply that thought? On myself as a player, and as a teacher or even worse: as a human being.

Oh yes.. the first thing on the first day, I learned, and recognized in myself is that I am wired much more as a therapeutic improviser than a storyteller. I tend to talk about feelings and traumas. And that’s not what I am here for these two months. Well… Why did I come to Canada again?

The most important reason – To figure out how to lose less energy in improv – as well as a teacher as a player. If I want to keep doing this professionally, I have to find another, more relaxed mode.
Like a Ninja, who seems to move effortlessly.
AND to catch up in playing (storytelling). I started teaching relatively soon, and I feel I have to catch up for all the kms I didn’t make yet. Which brings me back to fear and inadequacy. And a deep longing for learning.

So – back to storytelling in improvisation. Because of course already so many things have come up in one week that are super helpful. A little paralysing for me, but hopefully helpful when practiced a bit more in the next 2 months:

  • Be elegant
  • Be Obvious
  • Get ‘in sync with what is already (latent) there
  • Align with the inspired people
  • Play with technique vs. spirit
  • You can leave the stage, please ask questions and you are allowed to hold your hat
  • Create a platform with small bits of detail
  • Stay in eye contact
  • See through the eyes of the audience and wonder, what they wonder about. Give them what they think.

See through the eyes of the audience

Many teaching skills also passed by, but this read has been long enough. I will get back to them in the next article. I want to tell you a little bit about the book I am reading though.

‘The Art of Life and Death, lessons in Budo from a Ninja Master’.
It’s a book filled with words of wisdom about the nature of life and death, connected to this Martial Art form. These are a couple of quotes that inspired me and hopefully guide me through the next weeks:

  • “An artist under pain of oblivion must have confidence in himself, and listen only to his real nature.”
  • “You can always step out if you don’t need it.”
  • “Adopt the pace of nature – the secret is patience.”
  • “Do only what is absolutely necessary to be safe. And then wait until things will change and it becomes necessary to do something else.”

The next stood out the most to me. And will be my focus for next week. See what it brings.

  • “A playful mind and a playful heart are necessary attributes for surviving contradiction and paradox.”
  • “At true master is not a doctor; he’s a teacher of medicine. The student must listen, then diagnose and cure himself.”

Let me answer following questions next week:
What do I need to have a playful mindset every morning?
And, can I be that student?

Categories: Cindy


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