What’s the point?

I’ve been thinking about writing a handout which summarises some of the reasons I like to use improv games in workshops. As usual I struggle to get started on such things, so I thought I’d start blogging about it and see where that leads.

I might title it, What’s the point? That’s sometimes the question people ask in response to such games.

First off, I’d observe that what’s the point? is the question many would-be suicides ask. It’s a rhetorical question. But are they really asking for the meaning of life? Maybe, but I think underneath that they are saying they are miserable. And I think what’s the point? is often another way of saying the less profound but more human I don’t like this game. Which sounds less important and may make the speaker feel more vulnerable.

I quite often experience that myself. Sometimes I got to an improv workshop and as it starts I realise I’m not really in the mood. I find myself playing the opening game reluctantly, wishing I could be somewhere else. It’s tempting to escalate that into judgements like this is a stupid game. As if some rational part of myself is trying to explain this feeling as a way of dealing with it.

The discomfort of not enjoying a game is increased if others are enjoying it. We all know about peer pressure. What to some is a bonding and connecting experience is alienating to others. And if people then insist that the game is great and you should join in, the alienation is increased.

All of which is really interesting, if the group can talk about it. And here is one of the points of playing any game in a group. Whether people like it or not, it’s an experience of working as a group and if we can reflect on it honestly, there may be some insights into the groups behaviour that may be useful elsewhere.

Like, how do we manage when we have diverse responses to the same activity? Do we try to enforce conformity, trying to dismiss or rationalise away our discomfort? Or are we able to explore a bit more deeply?

The great thing about a “pointless” game is that there is so little formal content that we get to focus more on process. Often the importance of the stuff we are talking about blinds us to how we are talking about it.

More to follow… probably

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