Category Archives: Improvisation

An Improv Workshop at MeasureCamp Manchester Unconference

I had a great time this weekend at the second MeasureCamp Manchester Unconference. Aimed at the digital and analytics community, it’s a whole day of unplanned talks and workshops. There’s no planned schedule and everyone attending has the opportunity to deliver a talk or workshop.

How does that work? After an introductory talk there’s a big blank schedule of events board – waiting to be filled.

Those keen to give a talk complete a description card and stick it the board. As this event proved, very quickly there was a diverse and interesting amount of talks to attend across the day.

I’ve attended similar formatted events in the USA, at the annual ComedySportz improv championship. During a week of workshops and entertainment) there’s an ‘open space’ which is very similar in format. The idea of a full day of this locally piqued my curiosity.

It was easy to understand the ethos of the event, and MeasureCamp Manchester was well organised. It’s not only for those keen to get up and talk, but also to encourage those who’ve never given a talk. It’s an opportunity to to seize the chance to give their first ever bit of public speaking, workshop or discussion.

As I found out, a group of data analytics techy folks set up MeasureCamp in 2012. They  wanted to run a local community event and it took off. MeasureCamps are now held in over a dozen cities, all over Europe plus Hong Kong and Australia.

I think the ‘unconference’ format is a brilliant concept too. A speaking event with no traditional hierarchy or barrier to entry, providing encouragement to anyone who has an idea they are passionate about.  The presentations do not need to be polished, there’s no guarantee of full audience. Attendees will vote with their feet. However as this event proved, with this well curated day, the fear of ‘what if no one comes to my talk!’ doesn’t arise.

Improv for Creative Thinking

MeasureCamp is designed for the digital and analytics community though I thought it felt broader. There was much discussion here about modern work culture. I attended some great talks, including a discussion on freelancing and a talk on impostor syndrome. I also gave two talks on how improvisation skills is  used as a tool for creative thinking. A shortened version my Google Digital Garage in 2018 sessions, and they were well received.

Of course there’s a strong element of improvisation to the MeasureCamp Unconference format. When I deliver an improv workshop, I explain how improvisation is about being present and creative within set of constraints of a game.  One of the organiser, Paul  suggested I pinned my session on the board at the beginning of the day, which I did. Improv is great for learning, and it’s also a good motivator. By sticking my session at the beginning of the day it could provide a little confidence boost to anyone attending who had an idea for a but not yet committed to it.
It would have been an ideal place to promote my book,  but one of the stipulations is that there is no hard sell by speakers, and rightly so.

MeasureCamp Manchester was a fun learning experience and a great networking opportunity. I’ve even considered offering to volunteer for next year’s event (if I have the time and commitment it requires) I”ll certainly be getting in early for a ticket!

Useful Links

Jim Ansaldo – Teaching improvisation to teenagers with autism

Applied improvisation is where we use improv as a tool to teach and learn. The Bring a Brick podcast interviews professionals from all over the world who use applied improvisation in their work to discover how they use the ‘how’ of improvisation.  I take the role of curious student, to learn how people teach and benefit from the unique values of applying improv.  Teaching improvisation.

Teaching improvisation to teenagers with autismJim Ansaldo is a Research Scholar at Indiana University Bloomington, a member of Comedysportz Indianapolis and an instructor at Camp Yes And, which teaches improv Teenager on the Autism Spectrum.

“Improv gives us a means for everyone to bring their life experience to the table”

I had the chance to catch up with Jim earlier this year in San Jose, California. We talked about his approach to teaching, and his work bringing improvisation to with children and teenagers with autism, and how it can be used to highlight and aid communication and interaction. We also touched on the broader aspects of improvisation as a tool in therapy, Jill Bernard mindfullness in improv workshop that we both attended and the legacy of Keith Johnstone.

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Direct Link

Bullet Points

  • Creating a safe space for improvisation without the pressures of ‘performing’.
  • Working with educators at Camp Yes And.
  • Improv Camps and Classes for Teens on the Autism Spectrum and Educators
  • Using improv to facilitate discussion on how to improve teaching methods and generate new ideas.
  • The core values of CSZ worldwide – Collaboration, Inspiration, Values, fun.
  • Musical improvisation – The Yes And band.

Links

The host John Cooper is a professional stand-up comedian, improviser, tutor & illustrator based in Manchester, UK.

Click here to listen to previous podcast interviews  with other experts who use improvisation.