Amidst laughter and cheer, a dozen Bay Area young professionals stretched beyond their comfort zone, tossing around an imaginary ball with sound effects, dancing down a soul train ladder in pairs, and creating infomercials for re-imagined items with invented features.
On Thursday, March 7, the Young Filipino Professionals Association (YFPA) in collaboration with Bindlestiff Studio held a unique on-your-feet workshop on building leadership and communications skills through the art of theatrical improvisation.
Held at the 99-seat, black-box theater, Bindlestiff Studios, the “Yes, And” workshop was led by Allan Manalo, a writer, director, producer, and stand-up comic who has performed in over 400 colleges and comedy clubs throughout 47 states and 3 countries, and has taught stand-up comedy and improvisation techniques here and abroad.
The event began with a brief warm up, including exercises in learning how to be more aware of your senses — sight, sound, and touch — along with tongue twisters and silly facial stretches to set the mood. The class rules were simple:
- Let Go! [Permission To Be Silly]
- It’s not about YOU. It’s about the GROUP [It’s Okay To Be Obvious]
- Support Each Other [Don’t keep your partner hanging]
- Take Risk [Celebrate Failure]
- Use What You Got/Given To You [Adaptability]
- Remember to HAVE FUN!
- And most importantly…. HAVE FUN!
Taking lessons from shows like “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” and “Saturday Night Live,” the participants practiced adaptive thinking, spontaneity, creativity, flexibility, and teamwork, all while sharpening their concentration and listening skills. This was one event where paying attention and understanding context were key, and accepting ambiguity was par for the course.
The workshop also provided an introduction to the basic rules of improvisation, including:
- How to use the phrase “Yes, and…” to work through challenges
- Exploring outside your comfort zone
- Fine tuned listening by utilizing and reading non-verbal communication
- Embracing spontaneity to your advantage
- Developing and flexing collaboration “muscles”
- Learning principles of building trust
- Remembering to “have fun”
The workshop title, “Yes, And” refers to the first rule of improvisational theater: to always AGREE and support your partner. This means never denying a fellow actor of a scene, accepting what they have created, then adding something of your own. If your partner starts with a “NO,” then the scene is dead. “Yes, And” reminds us to remain open-minded, flexible and unafraid to contribute.
Congratulations to YFPA, Bindlestiff Studios and Allan Manalo for a knock out event! For more information about YFPA and future mixers and meet-ups, check out their page on Meet-Up.
- How Improv Can Help You Achieve Your Goals (suzemuse.com)
- Yes, and…5 Ways That Improvisation Can Make You a Kick-Ass Marketer (customerthink.com)