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*[Newsletter Series (#4)]

There’s a very special “move” improvisers use when working together during rehearsal, and that is: the circus bow. It comes in many shapes and sizes, but in general it’s an over-exaggerated, ridiculously theatrical bow that sometimes comes with a loud and boisterous, “TA DAAAAH!”

To do this, some improvisers cross their feet and bend low at the hip, sweeping their arms dramatically back and upward behind them. Others stand upright, heels touching and hands outstretched into the sky. However it’s manifested, the circus bow symbolized a very important improv performance skill: celebrating mistakes.

Because despite what Fear tells us in her tantalizing language of shoulds, mistakes are magic. We learn and grow and expand from them, and in my experience, some of the most revolutionary mistakes that inspire our aliveness take a little bit of risk and sometimes a whole lot of (you guessed it) vulnerability.

Ahh vulnerability. It’s a cocktail we’ve all tasted, made from one part uncertainty and two parts trepidation, mixed together with ice cold self-doubt - served up with a twist of what if. Vulnerability intoxicates us into believing we’re better off staying quiet and hidden. Under its spell, we grasp desperately for certainty and perfection, in order to appear well scripted.

But what if we let go? Throw away the characters we play and the words we’re supposed to read; move around our world without stage direction? Live improvised?

Things will go wrong for sure. We’ll bumble and trip and say the wrong things at all the wrong times. We’ll expose what we’ve been hiding; shine a spotlight on our faults. Others around us may peek above their own manuscripts long enough to wonder and judge. There will be mistakes and in some cases, there will be full frontal failure.

But we’ll be alive, with skin in the life game. Unscripted.

Brene Brown, in her book "Daring Greatly" talks about being in the arena. “Get in the arena, show up, do your thing, and don’t be afraid to get your ass kicked a little bit.”

And then, when everyone outside that arena - who aren’t ready to scrape and bruise and bleed yet - look at us with curiosity (or envy), we take our bow.


Next week, we'll talk through the principle of Engagement in improv and in life. Until then, get out there and make some beautiful mistakes. Bow proudly and shine.

So much gratitude to all of you life players. Here’s to thriving unscripted!

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