Thursday, March 5, 1998 at 13:17:08

What a fascinating focused study! I am a practicing Speech therapist in a high school as well as a long term member of ComedySportz. I recently have developed my own business as a 'educational improvisation expert'. My goal is to bring improvisational activities/games into classrooms as a powerful tool in enhancing students creative thinking and problem solving skills. I gave up a comfortable full time salary to do this, and couldn't be more thrilled that I took that risk- I'm busier than I ever imagined I'd be. I get hired to do staff inservices as well as workshops directly with kids.  My life is full of FP's and I encourage them! As a speech therapist I work with my 'dysfluent' students discovering that EVERYONE is dysfluent.  As a performer and improvisor I deal with FP's as a creative outlet.  We even have a game in ComedySportz called 'Hesitation' which demands FP's.  I just happened upon your site in a fit of boredom- I'm still busy digesting exactly how I will use all this information, but I will!  Have you had any background, experience, etc. with improvisation in any form?  I have been bowled over by the demand for my workshops, etc. and am always looking for more depth and understanding as to why what I do works so well.  My mind also travels to the brain-based research I have been reading.  May I recommend an addition of the works of Eric Jensen to your bibliography as a 'related topic'.  I'll be back to your page- it's bookmarked- after I've done a little mental digesting.   Feel free to check out my very basic website at or search comedysportz, go under 'cities', then Green Bay, then Outside the Box.  Thanks for getting my brain recranked tonight!

- PE

What interesting work you are involved in!  I just looked at your home page which I would hardly call "basic".  It looks very nice and "Outside the Box" sounds like it would be very active work.  I also explored the ComedySportz pages which are equally interesting.  I would really like to observe one of your performances sometime.  However, as I currently live in Japan, I don't think I'll be able to see a show in the near future (although whenever you do an Asian tour, please let me know!).

As for me, I have not yet used much improvisation in my EFL classes--I'm not sure how I would approach the 'double' inhibition of students because of both acting and speaking in a foreign language.  However, I have had my students do some basic drama activities exploring body language.  In order to raise their awareness I have students practice 'walking' as different kinds of people in different situations (e.g., a child on the way to the park, a hip young man in downtown, a young woman walking alone on a dark street, etc.).

I am particularly interested in the 'hesitation' game.  Could you outline it for me or tell me where I might read about it on the web?

Hey, I'd love to do an Asian tour!!- I'll look you up if I ever hit that continent... don't hold your breathe...

Hesitation is an improv game that begins as a scene and at some point in time the participants are supposed to 'hesitate'- use fp's, at which time the audience members are encouraged to yell out information to complete the thought. For example:  "Oh look there's something in the fridge! It's aahh...aah..." "Porcupine!" The player must then deal with a porcupine being in the fridge and justify it's exsistence.

We often play that game in the beginning of a show to get the audience warmed up and comfortable yelling stuff out.

There is a great improv website called The Living Playbook which outlines tons of improv exercises that could be useful to anyone in a educational setting. I often use the walking exercise as well- there is a great exercise called 'walk/stop' as well.  Take a look.

Thanks for all the info.  Here in Japan the school year runs from April to March, so I'm now in the process of making out a plan for the next academic year.  I think I will probably incorporate some of the ideas you've passed along in my language classes.  Incidentally, drama in (second/foreign) language teaching has several vocal proponents.  And almost every major ELT conference has several presentations on the topic.  I have even seen a couple of drama groups do the kind of audience participation activities you mention.  If you decide to expand your work this might be one field to consider!

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