playing

what is playing to me?

To me, play means having fun, being in the moment, improvisation. It often feels like being a child when I play. There might be something about judgement in this; I think is good for me to suspend judgement when I play.

Sometimes with the right people, playing can just happen without introduction. Othertimes when I go specifically to a place in order to play we all warm up together to get in the right space and state of mind.

I think that playing is really important. Children do it naturally as they work out models for how things work and to put into practice concepts and ideas they see happening around them.

Adults can get caught up in the judgement thing (“you’re being childish”, or I “don’t want people to think I’m being childish”). So they tend to be embarrassed if asked to play and they don’t want to. I think adults should definately play on their own and with other people – I think it is really rewarding, it is both fun and we can learn a lot about ourselves. It is a place to explore and experiment safely.

how do I play?

Here is a story of a play experience I had. I go to a theatre improvisation workshop, which is basically playing games for 2 hours. The games are designed to keep us in the moment and experiment with various communication/interaction concepts. The game I was playing was about being changed by an outside experience.

The score (setup of the game) was that me and a partner were cleaners in a hotel room, and we had found a wallet full of cash and a bottle of wine. We had decided to steal the cash and drink the wine. Then we were to be interrupted by the hotel room occupant, who had been having a silent bath.

I found it hard to focus on enjoyment of having the cash and money because I was thinking about being interrupted (I wasn’t in the moment). Then when the interruption came I did my best to avoid getting into trouble (I was avoiding experimentation with a scary subject).

From an audience perspective this was really boring! They wanted to see us having a great time with the cash, get drunk, have sex on the bed while rolling around in cash! Then we would be perfectly setup for the big fall when we were interrupted.

benefits of play

It helped me realise that even in safe environments I am subject to my programming of wanting to “be good”. It helped me realise how much fun it can be to get caught and be in trouble (we did it again and got in proper trouble). It gave me a safe opportunity to test my ability of being in the moment while I was in a state of mild fear. It has given me more artistic freedom to experiment with ideas and scenes that I would normally reject or not commit to.

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