Guiding the Train

Coaching is not always the ride you expect it to be.  Nor is any teaching, really.  So, what is an improvisational teacher to do when a coaching experience does not go as planned?  My suggestion: honor and notice the moment that is, take a breath, and decide where to go next.

Two weeks ago, I experienced an interesting and unexpected moment in an improv class: a game fell flat.  And then the next game did as well.  The group had shifted and a dynamic had changed; games I had coached with delightful success time and time again were...not really working this time. 

Although I start nearly every improv workshop with Ball, I chose to wait until after the break with the next class meeting.  I waited until they asked for it.  Well played, Carrie.  Well played.
What this group needed was a chance to be silly and loud...and then the encouragement to focus in.  As their coach, I needed to pay attention to their natural strengths and interests.  After riding the new set of tracks they showed me needed to be laid, I could then guide them onto the tracks I had intended. 

I'm always talking about co-creating a narrative, about co-creating a scene with our fellow players.  With this group, I needed to look at my coaching in the same way, too.  Once I breathed--deeply--and allowed myself to see the co-creation of this class, it began to fall into place in an organic fashion once again. 

The foundation of our ensemble is now based on four essential principles of improvisation: Woo Hoo!, Yes And, Do What Comes Next, and Make Your Partner Look Good.  Tomorrow, we will jump into scenework.  I can't wait to see which stations this train will explore.


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