Written by Rob Adler Friday, 15 June 2012 17:47
AdlerImprov provides a counterpoint to digital connection, interactive social play. I use the games developed by Viola Spolin to demystify and train the intuition. Film Quarterly wrote "The exercises are artifices against artificiality, structures designed to almost fool spontaneity into being--or perhaps a frame carefully built to keep out interferences in which the player waits. Important in the game is the 'ball' -- the FOCUS, a technical problem, sometimes a double technical problem which keeps the mind (a censoring device) so busy rubbing its stomach and its head in opposite directions, so to speak, the genius [spontaneity], unguarded 'happens'. Training people to access their intuition is both practical and profound. In the fast paced, high pressure modern world, we teach skills that allow for true presence and connection. Our workshops have helped physician’s better serve their patients, returning veterans re-acclimate to life after war, business executives become better leaders, and professional artists to overcome blocks to creativity. I came to the study of spontaneity as a professional actor for more than 25 years. I studied in New York and London before I trained at Chicago's Theater School at DePaul University/Goodman School of Drama. In Chicago I was exposed to the work of a little known woman who had a significant influence on people worldwide. Viola Spolin had been the student of Neva Boyd at Northwestern. Boyd's "Play Theory" in the early 1900s is what lead schools to create "recess" time! Boyd noticed that children learn better after they have time to simply play games. Spolin, a settlement worker, heightened her mentor’s discovery by developing a series of games that were not only playful but had a creative result. Spolin's games seemed to harness the surprising, unpredictable magic that comes when people lose self-consciousness and begin focusing outward. Spolin's son Paul Sills went on to found The Second City and make comedy history, but the broad implications of his mother’s games were lost as comedy became the focus over community. I have worked tirelessly to share the games with people of all stripes. In Hollywood where our business is based, there is immediate appeal to those working in film and television who are required to bring spontaneity to the screen. I have found that the same exercises have intrinsic value to much more than Hollywood actors. I've taught doctors, beyond stressed in the hectic health care system, new ways to empathize with and better serve their patients. I've helped soldiers back from Iraq learn skills that alleviate the pangs of post-traumatic stress. My passion is to help people bring spontaneity and presence to their work and life.