What is applied performance?

What is applied performance?

Applied performance is a cross disciplinary field that uses performance process and practice, be it acting, music, dance or other forms of art, backed up by socio-political theory to address social and political issues. The purpose is to make a change and bring about sustainable transformation.

At Playing Mantis we have developed applied performance processes specifically suited to organisational change and development. Its rootedness in the arts ensures a holistic learning process that is experiential and that can bring about systemic change.

Delegates telling stories

Its use of narrative strategy and story telling also allows organisations to reframe their own narratives and reimagine their strategic objectives and ultimately their future. Applied performance is particularly valuable for culture change processes and is essential for organisations that are serious about transformation towards gender and racial equality.

Our applied performance model is called strategic narrative embodiment. The art forms that it most depends on is theatre, story-telling and improvisation sometimes inviting elements of visual art, dance and music. It functions on the levels of design and technique to help change makers create processes that really works. Read more.

Exercise: walking with enlarged body parts.

Great for helping people get into their bodies and conect with tacit knowledge

Possible outcomes

  • To get the group into their bodies and into the present moment.
  • To increase participants’ awareness of themselves in space with other people.
  • To lift the energy and mood.
  • To elicit conversations regarding the body, how it is presentedand how it is perceived..

Overview:

Participants walk in the space imagining that alternate body parts become inflated and oversized.

Time: 7 min

Number of participants: 6 – 50

Flow:

Facilitator asks participants to walk in the space concentrating on filling gaps that they see open up. She asks them to bring awareness to each body part from the toes up to the scalp, calling every body part by name and asking them to breathe life into it. Next she asks participants to walk as if they have inflated body parts e.g.:

  • Feet the size of mini vans,
  • Hands with fingers like canoes
  • Bums the size of busses
  • A head the size of a hot air balloon
  • A heart the size of a star ship.

Each time suggest things they try to do with the inflated body part (pick up a ball, get into an elevator etc.). Between body parts, let the inflated part return to normal before blowing up the next one.

Debriefing questions

  1. What was that like?
  2. What do you think is the point of this exercise?
  3. What changes do you notice in yourself or the group compared to before this exercise/series of exercises?
  4. Were there any specific moments that brought up an emotional response different than the others? Explain?
  5. What does this mean to you?
  6. What did we learn about our bodies, how we presnt or perceive them/ or the bodies of others?
  7. What does this mean to us?

Facilitator note: I once did this exercise with a group of 30 or sostudents. At least three of them responded indignantly and one very agrily towards the moment of walking with enlarged back sides. One said it reminded her too much of the negative and , in her view, degrading image of the large bottomed black woman stereotype. She chise to sit in the middle of the floor and not move. Another student agreed and berated me for putting them in this difficult situation. I needed to calm the situation down and explain that the game is neutral, but that their reations are important and valuable food for reflection. It was after this experience that I added the forth outcome above and the last few reflection questions. It just goes to sjow, there is knowledge in the body and we can never know what body work may conjure up for participants.

 

 

 

Strategic Narrative Embodiment (SNE) in a nutshell

little-red-riding-hood-1130258_960_720

SNE is inspired by the three elements of a story

Every story, fictional or real, consists of three elements:

  1. Someone who wants something
  2. Obstacles in their way
  3. An attempt to get what they want in spite of the obstacles.

Everybody wants something. It is what motivates them. Tapping into this motivation is important for every coach-facilitator. It is the key to engaging people in the work of sustainable change that is for the better (change for good). Every time you, as a coach or facilitator, enter into a relationship with a client, you start by clarifying what the client wants: their strategic intent. This is often informed by existing documents like value statements or strategic objectives. Once your mandate is clear, and you begin to work with the designated group or individual, you once again have to create a picture of the intent with the people in the room – including you as enabler of that intent. It sets the context for the work. Of paramount importance here is that this intent must be owned and influenced, or made sense of, by all stakeholders not only by the paying client. Everyone needs to be invested in the process.

From this point on, you embark on a journey together, led by the narrative design. You are attempting to get what you want together. You are living through a story, artfully shaped, but not controlled by you, the coach-facilitator. Along the way you and the delegates are going to encounter obstacles. However, because you are using embodied participation as your mode of enquiry, you are allowing an interaction between the narrative design and the embodied participation that mirrors reality. As delegates overcome the obstacles, they are practising for the times they will overcome them when they are back in the real world after the process is over.

Because you are working with a narrative design through embodied participation, you are also inviting into the space the stories about all the other times delegates have tried and failed to get what they want. In this way they are able to identify and reflect upon dominant and habitual narratives that may no longer be useful or practical. These are things that people believe or do in relation to the strategic intent that are not producing desired results but that they continue doing out of habit or conviction. The process is non-threatening and playful and allows delegates to experiment with alternative possibilities and solutions.

The SNE model

The diagram above shows the relationship between the narrative design of the workshop (represented by the horizontal process line) and a participant’s interaction with it through embodiment techniques (the vertical process line). The entire dynamic is contained by the original strategic intent of the workshop (the circle in the diagram). The centrifugal arrows indicate the new possibilities that are released when the unofficial, dominant or habitual narratives are fractured by the interaction between narrative design and embodied participation. The dotted and curved arrow indicates an emergent new narrative that arises as the more effective one in closing the gap between what delegates want (strategic intent) and what they have (embodied reality).

An Ethical code for Applied Performance work in Organisational settings

Aligning with associates and clients with a shared set of values.

How many times have you experienced a values clash with a client or a fellow consultant when using applied performance techniques?

What you find here is a set of 7 values that had been work shopped with applied drama and applied improvisation practitioners who do work in organizational settings. Three different groups came together at three different occasions (two of them happened at our last Flying Pig sessions). We used a combination of embodied images, role play, conversation and systemic mapping to interrogate the meaning of each of these values sharing scenarios and stories to help us find the appropriate nuances. You are most welcome to comment, question and contribute to the conversation.

Playing Mantis and Associates Ethical guidelines

It is important to us that our associates and clients understand and resonate with our ethical approach and values. These can be articulated as follows:

1. Deep collaboration: We craft our work in deep collaboration with all stakeholders involved. We do not use the powerful tools of story and embodiment to ‘download’ information top down to participants. Rather, we create work that introduces ideas and then facilitate conversations to allow audience members to interrogate and make sense of those ideas for themselves. It is important to us to value the input of all stakeholders equally.

2. Sustainability of human relationships: Sustainability to us means that no process can be a fly by night affair. It requires relationship building, negotiation and development over time. We are deeply interested in the sustainability of the organisations that we support, which includes all of the human aspects of the employees and the wider stakeholder community that will inform the organisational culture.

3. Intersectional symbiosis: We support and enable leadership styles that seek to negotiate solutions between the organisation and the community, between management levels, between departments, sections and divisions, between leaders and workers, between skilled and unskilled labour so that all impacted parties benefit. This means that all parties also have to be willing to adapt and rework solutions based on intersectional input.

4. Intrinsic value and contribution: We support the notion that every individual and every social grouping has value and can contribute positively to the workings of an organisation and its health. This means that every person working in an organisation, and also the community outside the organisation that supports the individuals, have value and can contribute something unique to the organisation that the leaders may not be aware of at the outset. We work to surface and incorporate these in all the work we do.

5. Systemic awareness: We support the notion that every issue must be considered in relation to larger systemic influences and conditions. These include social, environmental, political, historical, strategic, legal and technological factors that may or may not be visible and recognised by stakeholders at the outset. We work to surface and acknowledge the effects of these in all the work we do.

6. Rigorous self reflexivity: We hold ourselves and everyone we work with accountable to honour their responsibilities and agreements they make. We train and support everyone involved in our projects to be self reflexive and able to see and consider their own perspectives and positioning in relation to those of the other stakeholders so that prejudice, egoism, nepotism, domination and corruption are never an option.

7. Responsible sharing of intellectual contributions: We value our intellectual property and yours. It is our livelihood. At the same time we want you to be able to use what you receive through interaction with our work and integrate it into your own. We also want others to find their way to the materials and use it. We therefore ask you to reference our work wherever possible in written or oral format if you use it explicitly or if your own work was adapted from ours. In all these cases please reference us as follows:

– State the nature of our influence e.g. taken from / inspired by / adapted from

– State the author or entity e.g. Playing Mantis People development Consultants / Petro Janse van Vuuren

– State the specific model/ tool /idea e.g. the SNE model / Moving Story Structure / Pig Catching process etc.

Examples:

“Inspired by Petro Janse van Vuuren’s SNE model.”

“Taken from Playing Mantis’s Moving Story Structure”

Flying Pig for February: Aligning with Associates

Flying pig

What are the values that bind us?

How do these values help us grow the pie and share it?

 

Face to face Pig Catching in Johannesburg
TOPIC: Aligning with associates – The values that bind us.
DATE: 23 February
TIME:  8:30-11:30 – Experience – stay afterwards for more coffee and afterglow.
PLACE: Emakhaya Foyer 19th floor University Corner Building Corner of Jan Smuts and Jorissen Braamforntein.
FACILITATOR: PetroJanse van Vuuren
DRESS: Comfortable clothes you can stretch and move in
RSVP: by  Wed 21 Feb to petro@playingmantis.net

COST: R280/ $24   Pay with paypal: 

Online Pig Catching
TOPIC: Aligning with associates – The values that bind us.
DATE: 23 February
TIME:  14:45-16:00
PLACE: Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://zoom.us/j/406130239
FACILITATOR: PetroJanse van Vuuren
DRESS: Comfortable clothes you can stretch and move in
RSVP: by  Wed 21 Feb to petro@playingmantis.net

COST: R280/ $24   Pay with Paypal:

More about the topic

In view of my wanting to grow Playing Mantis as a resource for facilitators, it follows that some of these facilitators, as have already happened, would fall in love with the processes, make it their own and want more and more. This means that you can then become part of a network of people who use SNE to serve client needs, while Playing Mantis serve yours.

I have changed my mind a little since I sent out the muse-letter two weeks ago: I will be looking specifically at the ethical principles that we all want to build our work on and if we can agree on what they mean?

So, whether or not you have received the SNE training  you are welcome to chip in with your thoughts. If you have received the training, but we have lost touch, come too and maybe we can find synergy with where we are now.

Figuring out a new business relationship that is mutually beneficial AND where parties agree on the underlying values that the work should embody, can sometimes be like catching flying pigs – especially when money is scarce. Let’s grow the pie and share it – there is enough to go around.

RSVP: by  Wed 21 Feb to petro@playingmantis.net

What moves you?

Star fish

I want to change the world for good – in both senses of the word: for the better and in a lasting way. To do that you and I have to be moved – moved to tears, to laughter, to action. Moved from being stuck and stressed to being present and flowing in our genius.

You know that nauseating story about the starfish?

The one about the man walking on a beach awash with thousands of starfish dying in the scorching sun? The one where he sees a little girl bending down every so often, picking up one starfish at a time and tossing it back into the waves to be saved?

I hate that story. It makes me want to vomit. Let me tell you why.

If you don’t know the story, the man goes to the little girl and asks her: “There are thousands of dying starfish. You pick up one at a time and toss it back into the water. What difference can you possibly make?” This is where the little girl picks up another creature, looks at it lovingly and, as she sends it sailing into the surf her says: “For that one, it makes a difference.” And this is where the audience goes: “Aaah” clasping their hands to their chests in waves of gooey sentimentality. Yuck! It’s where I raise my eyebrows and go: Really? If you are going to make the effort to bend down, why not scoop up a handful? Heck! Why not bring a bucket to the beach with you? And how do we know she tosses them far enough? Won’t they just wash out on the beach again tomorrow?

I am not moved by this story, sorry.

“To this one it makes a difference” indeed. If I was going to make the effort, I want to change whole groups of people, whole societies, or at least impact the one damn starfish that will impact a community of starfish around him.

Let me hand out buckets, let me bring along some bulldozers and get a bunch of drivers to shove the whole lot into the water.

Of course, this depends on whether or not the starfish want to go back, or if it is good for the environment as a whole for them to go back. And here the metaphor breaks down. We work with people, not starfish. People don’t take to being bulldozed, bamboozled or otherwise manhandled or manipulated. They want to have a say, they want to debate the benefits and risks of going back into the water. They want to make sure they stay with their friends and families and that they get to the place they choose in the water, not the one they may end up thanks to the meddling of some old fool or well-meaning philanthropist.

I spent nine years working in organisation and leadership development playing saviour to the poor starved souls on the bleak beach of office work, monotonously tapping away at their computers in their cubicles yes-ing and no-ing to the poor soul in charge. All slowly trying to make it to the front where the waves are splashing. Until one day, six years later, I discovered with a shock: There I was thinking myself to be the saviour with the bucket, the hero, the enlightened guru — only to realise with a Copernican jolt that I was just another starfish gasping for a drop of damp. My time on the beach turned me into one of them. I watched wave after wave sloshing onto the beach nourishing the lucky buggers at the front while the rest of us starved. Once the industrious little star thrower nearly squashed me under her sneaker picking up the gal next to me. Another guy was not so lucky getting stuck to the underside of her shoe, turning into mince bit by bit with every step. I needed to get away from there!

I moved.

I began to wiggle towards the water laboriously making my way a centimetre a day and just as I nearly made it, a wave picked me up and tossed me back up the bank.

When I lay gasping and scorching in the midday sun once more, delirious from the heat, I remembered something I saw as I was soaring through the sky: a small rock pool somewhere to my right. Slowly and with hardly any hope or energy left, I began moving.

Centimetre by eternal centimetre I made my way to the pool and six months later I passed out on the edge of the pool where helpful friendly arms pulled me into the cool life giving water.

This was a few years ago when I received a post-doctoral research grant from the University of the Witwatersrand. Going back to academia was a revival for me especially getting back into the field of applied performance. Applied performance is a young field that studies the methods and effects of drama, theatre and improvisation when used in contexts outside of the theatre to effect social transformation, to educate or to heal. Applied performance gave me the buckets and skills for handling the machinery that can bring about change for good: a canny integration of planning, story and action. What it did not provide was the survival skills I needed to run a business and thrive in the sun – predominantly the ability to comply to the rules of the beach. Now I live a dual life sharing the tools and skills with starfish (not people) who do know how to work the beach and thrive.

It is us starfish that must do the moving ourselves.

Four days of the week I work at Drama for Life, the applied performance department of the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. Here I train facilitators in the techniques and skills needed for social transformation and healing and I co-ordinate the PhD programme wherein applied performance practitioners develop their thinking and their tools.

The fifth working day I spend here on this blog sharing my research, by questions, my inventions and my thoughts on changing the world for good with those of you who are working the beaches with a higher survival rate. I have combined the ideas of planning + stories + action into a model that I called Strategic Narrative Embodiment TM, or SNE. I developed this model over the nine years when I was an applied performance practitioner working as a consultant in organisation and leadership development. All the IP I developed during that time will now become available on this blog and in books, manuals and articles that I will systematically upload here.

If you are a coach, facilitator or other kind of grow guide, you may find tools, techniques and frameworks here to help you be moved to change the world for good too.

Complete your success story spiral this Friday with Susan

Flying pig

Join us for Part 2 of:

How do I find time for meaningful focused work in the midst of living and surviving?

You are invited to catch flying pigs with us

Face to face Pig Catching in Johannesburg
TOPIC: Doing focused work amidst the business of living
DATES: Part 2 Fri 1 Dec. (Part 1 not needed to enjoy Part 2)
TIME: 8:30-11:30 – experience (Please come on time for coffee or tea, we start at 8:30 sharp.)
11:30-12:30 reflecting on the methodology
PLACE: 21st floor University Corner Building Corner of Jan Smuts and Jorissen Braamforntein.
FACILITATORS: PetroJanse van Vuuren and Susan Williams
COST: R350 for Part 1 only
R500 if you book in advance for Part 1and 2
DRESS: Comfortable clothes you can stretch and move in
RSVP: by  Wed 29 Nov to petro@playingmantis.net

Note on the online course:
We did not have enough interest in this version of the course to justify it. We will go back to the drawing board and try again with a different format. Let me know if you are interested so tht I can let you know when it happens. Thanks.

More about Susan Williams, my co-facilitator

Susan has an MA in Philosophy through Pretoria University. In her dissertation, she provided a perspective on ethical agency in complex adaptive systems through sense-making methodology and storytelling. She entrenches arts-based methods in her ethics practice to help organisations develop a culture of responsive accountability.  As a facilitator and strategic organisational storyteller, she uses her skill and experience in coaching, facilitation and training to engage organisational leaders and departmental teams to grow as individuals and value-adding employees, who fulfil their own and their business’s potential.  She says that SNE, together with other methods, provides her with a toolkit that works for every situation.

Susan Williams

Susan’s encounter with SNE

I met Petro several years ago on a cold, overcast winters day over a cup of coffee in Melville, and we told stories to each other. To this day, no meeting happens without at least two stories being shared.

Being a storyteller, the concept of SNE has intrigued me since that first encounter.  Strategic narrative embodiment processes are used to get diverse and unconnected people together in an interactive space in which they use their whole body to explore beliefs, feelings, and thoughts. Through these interactions they make connections between themselves and others, and with bodies in the world through which they move.

Movement and play become the vehicle for deep exploration, reflection and learning, which often result in a deeper understanding of oneself and the relationships that are co-created in a shared environment. This understanding, and subsequently, the questioning of the known and safe spaces, is the first, tentative movement towards transformation and living a life of integrity.

More on the topic

At the previous pig catching session we covered stages 1 to 4 of our plans to do more meaningful work in spite of our struggles to survive. Usually, as you try to make the plan happen, you hit obstacle after obstacle. Now it is time for step 5 to 7. Join us as we guide our success stories through failure, disappointment and procrastination.

IMPORTANT: You do not need have attended the previous session to get joy and value from this one.

You may read in the place of ‘meaningful deep work’ any of the following: time for studying further, time for writing, for painting or designing a new process, or just remembering what gives you courage and significance.  Perhaps you are making a career change and you need time to strategise and execute new ideas.

quil and writing

For the past 10 years my husband, Gerhi, have been figuring out how to write the elusive novel and this year he is cracking the mystery. During the same time I have produced a PhD and published a number of research papers. Through all this we have raised our children and worked either on our own businesses or on teaching. We have tried and failed in so many ways; we have also found ways to succeed. What the course shares with you are the narrative heuristics that will allow you to improvise your own strategies for accomplishing your meaningful work.

The pig catching experiments will become part of my own journey towards writing the online course and perhaps a book on the subject. For now I call the process: ‘The success story spiral’ and I would love you to come and experiment with me while at the same time focusing on your own meaningful work.

Book now to secure your place by sending me an email petro@playingmantis.net

About Pig Catching

Pig catching is what coaches and facilitators do when we chase the moment of insight that brings shift and transformation in our clients.
Please note: No pigs get harmed, our pigs are purely metaphorical and they have wings.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND?

Coaches, facilitators, game changers, thought leaders like you who can accept the following:

  1. This is not a showcase or sales event geared to impress or win you over. If you come, you already believe that metaphor, embodiment, improvisation and imagination are powerful, fun ways to bring about transformation and you want to know more about using them in coaching and facilitation.
  2. Experimentation and mistakes are part of the process.  You must be willing to play with ideas that may not work or may be a bit uncomfortable, but that could lead to new heights of freedom and insight.

Join our group on Facebook:

Upcoming dates: Fri 25 Aug and Fri 1 Dec.

WE’RE LOOKING FORWARD TO BEING INSPIRED BY YOU. OINK!

We need new moves to move our people

The fall of Babylon; Cyrus the Great defeating the Chaldean

The need for story and embodiment in leadership training and development

In a VUCA world that is Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous, where change is increasing exponentially, people feel overwhelmed, unsafe and resistant to more change. Their brains react with threat responses: wanting either to fight (I will not comply), flee (I will avoid it) or freeze (I don’t know what to do), and so we disconnect (Leave me alone).

Yet as organisational development practitioner, coach, change manager, leader and facilitator, you know that shift is not just inevitable, it is desirable. How do you get your people to shift with the shifting times?

In order to thrive in such a world we need to be more adaptive, innovative, engaged and integrated. To achieve this, the brain must function optimally, not in survival mode but in creative mode.

Yet audiences, trainees, participants and teams have become more and more distracted, demanding and opinionated. Some are resistant to new input and tired of change. Others want highly customised, personalised and individually relevant input.

We need new moves to move the people we serve.

Lectures where information is simply transmitted, like feel-good motivational talks, and games like paintball and potjiekos competitions (team cook-ups), all lack one or both of the essential ingredients for programmes that maximise the potential for shifting your clients or participants. These two essential ingredients are learning design and creative participation.

Learning design is the art of turning information into a carefully sequenced and well-crafted learning experience. Here the content does not dictate the design, but the facilitator decides how best to shape the content so that people accept it. Often stories, pictures, audio-visual stimuli, like props and videos and interactive techniques, are employed to unfold the material and enliven the presentation. Speakers, trainers and teachers who add this component to their material significantly increase the potential for shift to happen, since it creates more brain connections for participants and draws them into the ‘story in the room’ (the content presented).

Creative participation is the art of creating structures that invite participants to contribute their ideas, thoughts and actions to the material. This kind of experiential process allows participants to bring their own ingenuity to the conversation and discover tacit knowledge that they did not know they had. Programmes and interventions that use games, interactive processes, conversations and liberating structures also greatly enhance the potential for shift, since people are able to connect their own stories to the story in the room.

With the explosion of the internet, everyone can be an expert, everyone can personalise and customise their programmes, profiles and preferences and everyone can choose what information they want to allow in their headspace. In addition, given the shaky state of world economies and the uncertainty created by political shifts and health threats, people are increasingly weary of solutions that would waste money or cause more uncertainty.

Lectures

Old-fashioned lecturing does not work any more. On the one hand, lectures are content-driven and the content dictates the design and flow of the presentation. On the other hand, the content tries to be a one-size-fits-all solution that is not customisable and adaptable for every individual particularity. Furthermore, lectures do not leverage the power of human connection and emotion as a way to drive messages home and make them ‘stickable’.

Shows

Motivational speakers liven up presentations by turning them into more of a show. Through showmanship they artfully present their content using stories, emotion and clever presentational gimmicks like props, visual aids and performance skills. In addition, motivational speakers are high-impact but low in time investment. And while the really good speakers are expensive for the time they put in, a once-off payment is still cheaper than a process that unfolds over time and consumes both time and money.

Yet traditional motivational speakers cannot bring about shift that lasts. They get a high rating from people attending their talks, but a very low rating in terms of creating real shift. What is lacking is the ability to help people connect their own individual stories to the story in the room. A grand show still offers a one-size-fits-all solution that cannot shift the individual. Many may enjoy it, but only 5% will experience something like shift.

Games

Team-building exercises and gamification programmes step into this gap by offering game-like solutions. A game is not meaning-driven, it is structure-driven. Within the confines of the game, people have some control to manipulate the rules to their advantage. A game can be individualised. A physical game, like soccer, is also good for connecting people and building relationships, something that often enhances emotional connection by awakening competitiveness or by leveraging people’s feeling of belonging. However, unless games are structured around meaning that can bring about change, people often leave a team-building experience feeling ‘warm and fuzzy’ but without a lasting shift that will be seen in the workplace.

Shift

If lectures, shows and games do not offer lasting solutions that can bring about shift, there must be a fourth option – and that is a solution we simply term Shift. For Shift to occur the talk, workshop or intervention must both be designed for learning to happen and involve participants’ creative participation. This means there is maximum potential for understanding the material as well as for participants to apply it to their own contexts and contribute to creating meaning and significance.

When you want to increase the potential for Shift to happen, story-strategy helps you retain perspective of the big picture while improvisation skills help you navigate your actions in the moment. Between the two, you create the conditions for Shift in the lives of your team members, workshop participants, customers, employees and, of course, yourself.

Join the next Strategic Narrative Embodiment training course

Or Sign up for the muse-letter to stay updated.

Online Facilitation of Applied Improvisation Exercises

A black squirrel from the side

Nine things I learned from Gwen Gordon and Erica Marx

After Christian and I facilitated an online session at the Applied Improvisation Network’s conference some weeks ago, Gwen Gordon contacted us to say that she also learned a few lessons doing this work – would we like to play together. On Tue this week, Erica Marx and I joined Gwen for a session of mutual learning. Here is what I took from the session:

  1. Zoom is a great platform, especially when used on a laptop. It offers various tools to play with including white board and breakout sessions. It is essential, though, that everyone plays on a laptop, rather than a tablet because the latter’s functionality is limited. For instance: I could not change my view from speaker view to gallery view (it may just be my own ignorance or inexperience). Gallery view is essential so that all participants can see each other.
  2. It may be fun to rename participants with playful names. Gwen likes to allow people to choose alternative names for themselves and use the zoom rename function to do so. This helps with distancing. As mentioned in our blog on online embodiment work, online processes can become very intimate and make participants feel vulnerable because the screen finds you where you are in your private home or office.
  3. Games where you pass on something from person to person work really well. Examples of this kind of game are the sound/energy ball and the gift circle. Because people do not appear on each other’s screens in the same order, Gwen gives each person a number and adds it to their name when they rename themselves at the start of the session.
  4. It works well to give people numbers as a way to establish an order for each exercise. Because you cannot organise people physically, establishing a response order is crucial. Christian and I usually establish an order by simply saying who goes after who (see a previous blog on online facilitation). Gwen cleverly uses numbers. The constraint of this is that, as someone who does not see well, I am better at remembering names than at following numbers that only appear visually on the screen. Still, it is worth trying, especially, as Gwen pointed out, when you have 22 people in the Zoom room.
  5. Games that build on each other are more fun and create greater connection across virtual space. We played ‘Yes lets’ in this way. Buttons (Gwen) would suggest an action ‘let’s melt’ and as we all melt, Squirrel’ (Erica) would suggest the we begin sizzling in the pot, and then Sideways (me) suggest that we begin to pop the corn etc. For some reason, I never played the game as one that builds, but rather as one that introduces a new action every time, but the building makes much more sense.
  6. You can use the features of online rooms to spark the invention of new games. Gwen invented a game where she asks all participants except two to strike a pose. The two remaining participants then comment on the gallery of images as though they are looking at a collection of artworks. In paired rhyme form, they then comment on the exhibition taking turns. This was hilarious
  7. Online processes can feed back into face to face sessions. Erica enjoyed commenting on how she might use the experience in the class she was about to teach after our session. The interplay between off line and online processes is a growth area. The switching between the two enriches both as we see well known exercises from a fresh perspective.
  8. The strategic edge offered by the SNE (strategic narrative embodiment) model. Applied Improvisation exercises are used by Gwen, and possibly many others, mostly to shift energy or to create a certain mindset for other work. I asked about the strategic use of the exercises as a way to work with content, and this seemed like a novel idea to my fellow players. Granted, we did not have a lot of time to get into it, but I know that in my own work, I use applied improv exercises to generate ideas for the very content we are working with, not only as a mood setter. We may, for instance, use the gift circle to name the gifts we received from a give session as way to reflect on our learning. Other times I have used the props game to generate ideas around solving a specific niggly issue. This strategic element stands out as being particular to my work. Want to learn more?
  9. Applied improvisation fits into the larger story design of a session. Another particular feature of my work that interested Gwen and Erica was the narrative nature of my session designs. I asked about how exercises might build on each other twards landing particular content. Again this seemed to my fellow players to be a new perspective. I think it is my applied drama training that has influenced this way of working. I design every session, on or off line, as a story arc. Starting with participants’ current realities, through moments of transition, tests and trials and sometimes playfully coming face to face with our own nemeses to return to the now, reflecting on our learning and thinking about the elixirs we are brining home. Want to learn more?

If you are interested in the strategic narrative aspects of improvisation, you may want to take the SNE course for coaches and facilitators. Our next face to face course is now in Oct 6-7 Oct for Module 1 and 13-14 Oct for Module 2. It happens in Johannesburg.

Alternatively, join us for our next online Flying Pig Catching series starting 16 Nov in the Zoom room near you.

Many thanks to Gwen and Erica for such fruitful playing!!

Also read:

Principles for doing online facilitation and embodiment

Change how you coach and facilitate with SNE

Where does Strategic Narrative Embodiment Techniques (SNETs) come from?

The heart of Strategic Narrative Embodiment (SNE)

 

Pig catching online: How do I find time for meaningful focused work in the midst of living and surviving?

You may read in the place of ‘meaningful deep work’ any of the following: time for studying further, time for writing, for painting or designing a new process, or just remembering what gives you courage and significance. Perhaps you are making a career change and you need time to strategise and execute new ideas.
Together we will embark on a journey, where Petro and Christian support you, to define your most important goal to design and evolve your individual and successful Story Spiral towards it.

You are invited to catch flying pigs with us

DATE: Thursdays: 9, 16, 23 & 30 Nov, 7, 14 & 21 Dec.
TIME: 20:00 – 20:45
PLACE: a ZOOM room (we will send link)
FACILITATORs: Petro Janse van Vuuren and Christian F. Freisleben
COST: $25 per session for 7 sessions or
$150 for the entire series of 7 sessions
RSVP by 2. Nov petro@playingmantis.net

More on the time structure
The online process will take 7 sessions over seven weeks to allow you to implement your Success Story from week to week, so it is a commitment.
We would like your permission to video record all the sessions. We would also like to use the material to populate the course and the book – keeping your identity confidential, of course.

Who should attend?
Coaches, facilitators, game changers, thought leaders like you who can accept the following:
This is not a showcase or sales event geared to impress or win you over. If you come, you already believe that metaphor, embodiment, improvisation and imagination are powerful, fun ways to bring about transformation and you want to know more about using them in coaching and facilitation.
Experimentation and mistakes are part of the process. You must be willing to play with ideas that may not work or may be a bit uncomfortable, but that could lead to new heights of freedom and insight.

We’re looking forward to being inspired by you. Oink!

(This inivitation as pdf and an and on on Pig Catching and the Story Spiral .