Once again taking an improv principle, having a blast with it in class, and then realizing I can take it out into the world with me and make my life better. BAM!
When you are on stage it is nice to include the audience in what you are doing. Opening the refrigerator? If you put the imaginary fridge on the back wall the audience is now watching your back. Turn around and put the fridge on the invisible front wall and now the audience can see your face when you open up the door and realize someone ate the last piece of cake.
::commence improv scene::
Now what if you have a large audience and the front row stretches out all along the stage? How do you make sure you keep the people on the end involved?
Include them with your feet.
If you angle out your foot to point towards the person waaaay over there, now your body is “cheated open” and they can see what’s going on. Totally great tool. Awesome for improv.
But then it gets even better.
A few days later I just happen to stumble on an article about body language and it takes this same idea out of the theater and into board rooms, parties, and luaus everywhere.
If you want know if someone is engaged in a conversation, look at their feet.
Are their feet pointed towards the person speaking or angled towards the door? That’s right. Are they preparing an escape?
It occurred to me that my feet could change a lot of things in my daily life. I’m a busy mom who homeschools three kids of vastly different ages. I’m often juggling multiple things. But what if, when someone interrupted me with a question or a “look, Mom!”, I took an extra moment to move my feet and not just my eyes?
It’s pretty amazing what happens.
Not only do people feel it when you give them your full attention, but somehow what they are saying or doing gets a whole lot more interesting too.
You see what I did there?
In this fantastic interview, Oscar-nominated screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio (Shrek, Aladdin, The Pirates of the Caribbean…) share how they work with ideas and it’s brilliant.
Elliott: A lot of the way Terry and I work… is what we call “egoless arguing.” If Terry has an idea, he says, “Here’s the idea,” and from that point on, there’s no ownership of the idea. I’ll make arguments for or against it, Terry will make arguments for or against. The idea has to prove itself as being correct.
Rossio: We put the ideas into an arena and let them battle, and in the end the stronger idea will win out.
I have known for some time that the word “my” can cause an avalanche of problems in the creative process. (Instead of “can you proofread my draft?” try “can you proofread this draft of this idea?” and see if the removal of any self-reference allows you to take constructive feedback more gracefully. It’s amazing how much the ego wants to protect the status quo inside that subconscious maze.)
Now take it one step further.
This wasn’t “my” idea, it’s just an idea that is now here. Where did it come from? Who knows? Can it hold up? Let’s see.
::grabs popcorn to watch::
Ooooh, how this can really up the ante for creative collaboration whether it’s a piece of writing, a business idea, or the most monumental project of all: planning a family vacation.