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Student Post


Cindy Pittens – Week 8

Improvisation school week 8

Improv Cult

Shawn said (with a wink) something about improv and religion. That improvisation will one day have to lead to a cult movement.  Because of faith. Ha interesting!

(Shawn Note: Long term improvisation gatherings can appear like cults – They bring people away from their regular support group, They supply new and sometimes life changing ideas, they generally create a culture of support for the new reality – YES AND YES AND YES AND… And… some teachers or groups allow this cult state to foster.)

Let’s philosophize about that.
Yes, let’s!

2 for the price of 1
First of all, faith is a cool word. Because it means something slightly different in English than in Dutch. Faith translates to belief and trust. It’s a full word, for which we Dutch people need two!

I’d love to
It seems wonderful to me; a religion. Just to have… I was baptized, had my communion (yay! a new bike!) and my confirmation when I was 12. Officially, I am still in the books of the Catholic Church. But I don’t believe in it. Not in that god. Not in the church as an institution with moral power.

No worries!
I do believe in the solidarity and community that faith can provide. And trust. That there is a higher power that has our best interests at heart and you simply trust its choices. Although you don’t always understand the motives. That requires surrender and trust. I admire that.

The liberation that this provides is what attracts me to faith. But no God or religion ever convinced me. Except improvisation. In fact, I have been completely devoted to this teaching for the past 7 years!

Convincing job
In fact, I’ve done nothing but proclaim how fantastic improvisation is. How it frees you from fear and gives you confidence in the here and now, in yourself, your choices, your impulses. It’s all okay.

Life becomes lighter and happier, because of the playful side of it. I recently wrote about an improv theater in Nijmegen and the connection and community that would bring! Isn’t that just the equivalent of a church? Wait… have I found my religion?

The worst kind!
I have a business based around this. CP IMPRO is not much different than a Bible seller on the streets, but in another guise. And worse than the Bible salesman who only wants your time to share their passion and believes; I make money from every good-willing believer!

Like many other believers, I doubt myself. Do I actually believe what I preach? Can I trust with complete dedication? Give myself to the moment? Let go of control and unconditionally accept what comes my way? And is that actually the intention? Or do you also have to make your own choices? You are not only the actor, but also the writer and director of the performance called ‘life’.

I once talked to someone who told me that believing is a choice. Belief is not the same as knowing. You don’t know that God exists. You believe in it. That’s how I believe in improvisation. But I can’t always submit to it. And is that actually necessary? Or is that question inherent in doubt?

I often search for the balance in scenes, between surrender and continuing to use my own mind. With my temperament I become a loose cannon on stage. At the same time, curbing that temperament keeps me from surrendering to the improv gods.

There is no faith without surrender. But things go wrong where surrender erases all boundaries. Perhaps that is the challenge for every religion.

And you? What do you believe in so strongly that you surrender to it?

Want to read more of my adventures at the Improvisation School?

Categories: Cindy


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