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August, 2012

Improv & Speech Therapy

Rachel posing with a tracheotomy ventilation system

Almost a year after I received improv classes from my husband as a Christmas gift, I finally made it down to the Hideout for Level 1. The objective of Level 1, and I suppose many other introductory courses, is geared toward relinquishing a need to know everything before it happens, letting go of the idea that being in-the-moment is terrifying and learning to connect with people by having no expectations of them whatsoever. I found this exceptionally challenging. I also found the countless games we played were just like the work I did everyday: Speech Therapy.

There was the phonology game: Bibbity Bibbity Bop. There was the attention/memory game: Sound Ball. There was the narrative game: Story Spine. There was the Theory of Mind game: Gift Giving

It took an obnoxious amount of time to get out of my own head, to get out of therapist mode, especially after coming straight from work at a local Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) facility. I made comments like, “This is what I do all day” and “OMG, I can’t believe how much this is like therapy!” Eventually I stopped being Rachel the Therapist in those three hours on Tuesday night, and I became Rachel the Improviser, but I started to carry a little bit of the improviser and improv into work.

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Manhattan Stories: The Game

Roy here. Here’s a video about one of my pet projects this year.

Marc Majcher, a Hideout performer (Improv for Evil, The Escorts) and director (The Black Vault), is also a game developer. He has designed quite a few compelling board games, which I have had the pleasure to play. My personal favorite is Fluffy Bunny Tea Party.

Marc also experience creating short, fun games called “game poems.” I call them “poem games” in the video. Watch for the flash of Marc’s eyes when I say it wrong and he decides not to call me out on it.

Knowing his experience, at the beginning of 2012 I asked Marc if he’d be interested in designing a series of postcard games based on each of our Mainstage shows. He said yes!

He’s already done games for The Sci-Fi Comedy Double Feature, Process, and ROCK. But the game he made for Manhattan Stories called Sex & Deathis my favorite so far.

To properly share it with the world, I decided to get together Marc and Jon Bolden (one of the directors of Manhattan Stories) so that they could demo the game:

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