Close your eyes and envision a book club: a circle of comfy seats, a group of friends, old and new, the smell of coffee, tea, or – go crazy – wine. You grasp a book, either paper or digital, in your hands, and you can’t wait to dissect your favorite moments.
How fun! For some. I am certainly one of those people who gets excited to crack open a book, a beverage, and a debate over the intricacies of literary devices. However, I have many more-than-justified friends who see reading a book as low on their to-do list at best or an arduous task at worst. For those of you who view reading a book cover to cover in solitude as more of a homework assignment than a hobby, we have designed the Functional Improv™ Book Club.
How Does an Improvised Book Club Work?
Applying improv to life through Functional Improv™ is something we do in our classes, workshops, and in our own day to day. Why not try that with a book? We take a popular self-exploration book, do the reading for you, and design a series of experiential exercises that delve into the dynamics and principles within. All are welcome to read ahead, along, or not at all. We provide an outline of the why of each exercise, as well as excerpts from the book to further connect the improv exercises to the spirit of the book’s message. So far, our books have included Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes.
The Benefits of Improvising through a Book
Book clubs help people not only to dive into a book, but also into connections with a group. Sharing the complex ideas of both fiction and non-fiction narrative forges bonds, and improv takes that to a whole other level. Improv makes us safely vulnerable to others, giving us the opportunity to share pieces of our personalities via structured games, which were originally crafted to foster communication between children in a theatre setting. Applying these exercises to the themes of a book allow us to experience the author’s perspective, rather than simply read and consider it theoretically.
What if I Have No Improv Experience?
My first response to that is: everyone has improv experience! If you have ever had a conversation, a reaction, an emotion, or generally lived the human experience, you have improvised. If you mean that you have never attended an improv class before, I understand that there can be apprehension in trying something new, and something that feels like an opportunity to be put on the spot. An exciting feature of improv, especially for those new to the art form, is that it is fully ensemble based. An improv class is a place of support, collaboration, and finding your place in a collection of unique individuals, each contributing their point of view. Specifically, in an improvised book club, our games not only reveal your unique contributions, but they also shed light on a new way to see the message of the book.
If you are ready to do the laughing and learning while we do the reading, grab your coffee/tea/wine and join us for our next Functional Improv™ Book Club!