Showing all posts tagged #improv:

Beginners Improv Weekend - Peterborough January 2014

Posted on December 23rd, 2013

Would you like to be able to improvise scenes and stories? Develop your confidence in speaking in front of a group? Be more creative and spontaneous?
Our experienced tutors Stuart Reid and Antony Quinn will guide you step-by-step through a weekend workshop that will take you from complete beginner to improviser. You’ll learn the core skills and practices of improvisation, and by the end of the weekend you’ll be creating characters, telling stories and playing scenes - all entirely made up on the spot!
Saturday 18 & Sunday 19 January 2014 10:30 - 17:30 at Peterborough Cathedral.
Eventbrite - Beginners Improv Weekend

Difficult Conversations - Cambridge December 2013

Posted on December 5th, 2013

This is a workshop for people who want to get better at life’s difficult conversations.
The ones where there’s something at stake for us, something that we want. But where another human being is, ahem, in our way. We often devote a lot of energy to avoiding having them. We spend a lot of time in our head, or complaining out loud to our friends, about the difficult character of the person we would like to engage with but can’t.
Lots of courses are run on “dealing with difficult people" for this reason. These tend to be quite long on analysis and full of very intelligent sounding principles and frameworks. The trouble is that these courses idealise how we should hold our conversations. We think this can be disempowering… few of us can really live up to these ideals and the effort to do so can either leave us feeling we have failed, or leave us in a space of restrained politeness where we’re just repressing our more animal selves, albeit more skilfully than before.
We think the clue is in the title. Difficult conversations are difficult. We don’t help ourselves by attempting to make them easy by mental effort… in fact that often just makes the psychological rut deeper.
And since difficult conversations have high stakes, we don’t normally get many shots at having them.
In this workshop, we’ll use a very specific type of role play where participants can experiment with different ways to have the conversation. With a big emphasis on playfully trying stuff out, and without putting too much effort into analysing or idealising. We think of it as the rapid prototyping of behaviour. It brings some of the wisdom of the maker and agile movements to the training sphere.
Johnnie has developed this work over many years work as a coach and facilitator, in places as far afield as The Solomon Islands and San Francisco. He draws on all sorts of ideas and practices that have shaped how he works; things like gestalt psychotherapy, psychodrama, improv theatre and forum theatre, and the work of Tim Gallwey (the Inner Game). Antony brings to bear his background in language, communication, counselling and theatre, and his work as a user experience designer to support the rapid iteration of ideas.
We see difficult conversations as an opportunity to experiment and uncover bits of ourselves that we don’t always deploy. It’s a process of discovery and it can be so much more energising and exciting than attempting to follow a set of rules.
This is the first time we’ve offered this work in Cambridge. We are limiting the group to six particpants (plus ourselves) which we feel will make for a deeper personal experience. We think you’ll gain a better understanding of a more productive way to experiment with your difficult conversations.
Thursday 19 December 2013 09:00 - 13:00 at Cambridge Union Society.
Eventbrite - Difficult Conversations

Creative Surplus: Transforming Attention Deficit

Posted on April 19th, 2013

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a lifelong condition affecting children and adults. In addition to problems with attention, memory and self-control, people with ADHD are more likely to experience mental health problems (Young & Bramham 2007) and engage in criminal activity: 30-50% of UK prison inmates are thought to have the condition versus only 5% of the general population (Young & Goodwin 2010). In 2000, excess treatment costs for adult ADHD in the USA were $31.6 billion, with loss of work productivity estimated to cost a further $77 billion (Weiss 2007).
Design has the potential to significantly reduce the costs of ADHD: whereas psychiatrists and clinical psychologists modify the individual through biochemical, cognitive and behavioural means, designers are best placed to modify the the physical, social and digital environment. For example, social design approaches used by the Design Council to reduce violence against staff in UK accident and emergency wards (Britt 2011) could inform programmes to reduce violence in prison by inmates with ADHD. As yet, however, designers have few academic resources to draw on when designing products and services for people with ADHD (McKnight 2010).
Design and the creative arts have a role to play in maximising the potential benefits of ADHD as well as minimising the costs. Four studies in the scientific literature (Sarkis 2011) have shown a positive correlation between ADHD and creativity, for example: "adults with ADHD showed higher levels of original creative thinking ... and higher levels of real-world creative achievement, compared to adults without ADHD" (White & Shah 2011). Several business schools in the USA teach design thinking (Harvard 2013) and improvisation (Tutton 2010) to develop creativity and leadership, skills that could could help people with ADHD “use creative advantages to strategically offset difficulties caused by ADHD symptoms in daily life" (White & Shah 2011).
Drama and improvised theatre can also be used in the design process to improve collaboration and communication (Gerber 2007), to develop empathy (Stewart 2011), and to facilitate participatory design (Brandt 2000) -- a particularly attractive proposition for a user group that may be inherently creative.
Designing for and with people with ADHD may ultimately benefit the non-ADHD population in an increasingly distracted world: “on 10 October 2011, BlackBerry’s messenger services went offline for 3 days … Dubai police reported a 20% drop in road traffic accidents. Abu Dhabi police reported a 40% drop ... the interfaces we create are killing our users ... maybe we can take some design lessons from [people with ADHD]" (Colborne 2011).

Brandt, E., & Grunnet, C. (2000). Evoking the future: Drama and props in user centered design. In Proceedings of Participatory Design Conference (PDC 2000) (pp. 11-20).
Britt, A. (2011). Reducing violence and aggression in A&E. Design Council.
Colborne, G. (2011). Driven to distraction. CX Partners.
Gerber, E. (2007). Improvisation principles and techniques for design. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems (pp. 1069-1072). ACM.
Harvard (2013). The Business of Design Thinking. Harvard Magazine 29 January 2013.
McKnight, L. (2010). Designing for ADHD: in search of guidelines. In IDC 2010 Digital Technologies and Marginalized Youth Workshop.
Sarkis, S. (2011). Is the ADHD Brain More Creative? Psychology Today 13 June 2011.
Stewart, B. (2011). DD+D: a theatre-based design consulting firm. Dramatic Diversity.
Tutton, M. (2010). Why using improvisation to teach business skills is no joke. CNN 18 February 2010.
Weiss, M. (2007). The Economic Costs of ADHD. Centre for ADHD Awareness Canada.
White, H. A., & Shah, P. (2011). Creative style and achievement in adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Personality and Individual Differences, 50(5), 673-677.
Young & Bramham (2007). ADHD in Adults: A Psychological Guide to Practice. John Wiley and Sons: Chichester
Young, S., & Goodwin, E. (2010). Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in persistent criminal offenders: the need for specialist treatment programs. Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics, 10(10), 1497-1500.

Channelling the Magic: Applying Improvised Theatre to UX Design - Cambridge November 2012

Posted on November 29th, 2012

I’m running a workshop with Clare Kerrison today at UX Cambridge 2012 on Channelling the Magic: Applying Improvised Theatre and Comedy to UX Design:
Improvised theatre skills help us access our creativity, to work collaboratively and with more empathy. Watching and playing good improvised theatre can feel like magic. In this session you will learn the basic techniques improvisers use to co-create something from nothing, a vocabulary to describe your experiences, and how to apply these techniques in your design work. You will experience the wonderful, visceral “yes and" feeling of collaborative co-creation, where ideas emerge rapidly and spontaneously to deliver results whose value often far exceeds the sum of individual contributions. Using the same basic techniques, you will even learn how to develop your own ideas to their full potential in your solo work. You’ll also have a lot of fun!

Thursday 29 November 2012 17:00 - 18:30 at Kaetsu Educational & Cultural Centre.

Antony Quinn

Technology consultant, actor & improviser.