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Improv Wisdom: Don't Prepare, Just Show Up par [Madson, Patricia Ryan]
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Improv Wisdom: Don't Prepare, Just Show Up Format Kindle

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Longueur : 162 pages Word Wise: Activé Composition améliorée: Activé
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Description du produit


[ the first maxim ]:say yes

. . . yes I said yes I will Yes. —James Joyce, Ulysses

This is going to sound crazy. Say yes to everything. Accept all offers. Go along with the plan. Support someone else's dream. Say "yes"; "right"; "sure"; "I will"; "okay"; "of course"; "YES!" Cultivate all the ways you can imagine to express affirmation. When the answer to all questions is yes, you enter a new world, a world of action, possibility, and adventure. Molly Bloom's famous line from Ulysses draws us into her ecstasy. Humans long to connect. Yes glues us together. Yes starts the juices rolling. Yes gets us into heaven and also into trouble. Trouble is not so bad when we are in it together, actually.

The world of yes may be the single most powerful secret of improvising. It allows players who have no history with one another to create a scene effortlessly, telepathically. Safety lies in knowing your partner will go along with whatever idea you present. Life is too short to argue over which movie to see. Seize the first idea and go with it. Don't confuse this with being a "yes-man," implying mindless pandering. Saying yes is an act of courage and optimism; it allows you to share control. It is a way to make your partner happy. Yes expands your world.

Gertrude, one of my adult students and a mother of three small children, reported a lively adventure based on her application of this maxim. "Friday, my eight-year-old, Samantha, burst into the kitchen with a gleam in her eyes. 'Mommy, Mommy, there's a monster in the closet!' she shrieked. Normally, I would have thought my best reply to be a reality check for her. I would have said something like: 'No, dear, there is no monster in the closet. It's just your imagination, sweetie.' Instead, considering the rule of yes, I turned from the dishes I was washing and said: 'There is? Wow, let's go see!' I accompanied her to the closet, where we had a dynamic encounter with the monster, capturing it and squealing with delight as we tickled it into disappearing. It was a magical shared adventure. I would never have thought of joining Samantha's fantasy before considering the rule of yes! Thanks, improv."

It is undoubtedly an exaggeration to suggest that we can say yes to everything that comes up, but we can all say yes to more than we normally do. Once you become aware that you can, you will see how often we use the technique of blocking in personal relationships simply out of habit. Turning this around can bring positive and unexpected results.

I can remember the day nearly forty years ago when I made a conscious decision to adopt the yes rule. I was attending a tai chi workshop, and a woman whom I hardly knew asked if I could give her a ride home. I normally shy away from encounters with strangers, much preferring silence over casual social exchange. My heart sinks if I find myself with a chatty airplane seat-mate who wants to talk for the entire flight. I couldn't find a good reason to say no, so I said yes. She climbed into my car, and I pulled the old Chevy onto the freeway. As we searched politely for areas of common interest, the conversation turned to our tai chi experience and our physical well-being. I learned that she, too, had some problems with lower back pain. We commiserated, and she offered the name of a wise and skillful acupuncturist who had helped her considerably. As we parted, she wrote down the name and phone number of the healer and handed it to me while thanking me for the ride. What struck me at that moment was my wrongheadedness. I had thought that I was doing her a favor in giving her a ride, when it seemed (and here we get into some metaphysical difficulty with language) reality (the universe? my guardian angel?) was actually offering me some help. The acupuncturist turned out to be a godsend. I would not have found him without the connection with the woman I drove home. "Always say yes if someone asks for help and you can give it," I vowed. I admit a selfish motive in adopting this rule at that time, but the maxim has become a great teacher. Who benefits as we say yes to life? Notice.

Saying yes (and following through with support) prevents you from committing a cardinal sin—blocking. Blocking comes in many forms; it is a way of trying to control the situation instead of accepting it. We block when we say no, when we have a better idea, when we change the subject, when we correct the speaker, when we fail to listen, or when we simply ignore the situation. The critic in us wakes up and runs the show. Saying no is the most common way we attempt to control the future. For many of us the habit is so ingrained that we don't notice we are doing it. We are not only experienced at blocking others, we commonly block ourselves. "I'm not good at brush painting, so why bother? Whatever made me think I could do art?" "I'll never be the cook that Mom was, so I might as well order take-out." Blocking is often cleverly disguised as the critical or academic perspective. Finding fault is its hallmark. A sophisticated critic may even appear to be agreeing by offering the "yes but" response. Try substituting "yes and" for "yes but"—this will get the ball rolling.

The spirit of improvising is embodied in the notion of "yes and." Agreement begins the process; what comes next is to add something or develop the offer in a positive direction. Avoiding this next step is a form of blocking. I once taught a student who was scared to add anything to a scene unless he was instructed to do so. I think he was afraid of making a mistake. If Martha walked over to him on stage and proffered an imaginary ice-cream cone, Sheldon would accept the cone and just stand there, holding it. He appeared positive, seemed to be saying yes to the offer. But nothing else happened. Sheldon just stood there, blankly, until Martha advanced the scene by saying: "The elephants are coming right after these clowns." Sheldon's unwillingness to add something to the story became a kind of aggression. Players learn that sharing the control of the story is the only way to really have a good time. The rule of "yes and" can be used in relationships. Build upon someone else's dream. And when you are meeting new people, it is helpful to volunteer information about yourself, your interests, hobbies, dreams. This can open a door to friendship.

try this:

Support someone else's dreams. Pick a person (your spouse, child, boss), and, for a week, agree with all of her ideas. Find something right about everything he says or does. Look for every opportunity to offer support. Consider her convenience and time preferences ahead of your own. Give him the spotlight. Notice the results.

As we practice this affirmative response to life, positive things can happen. Kathleen Norris, in Amazing Grace, points out the connection between the impulse to say yes and our capacity for faith. "An alert human infant, at about one month of age, begins to build a vocabulary, making sense of the chaos of sound that bombards the senses. . . . Eventually the rudiments of words come; often 'Mama,' 'Dada,' 'Me,' and the all-purpose 'No!' An unqualified 'Yes' is a harder sell, to both children and adults. To say 'yes' is to make a leap of faith, to risk oneself in a new and often scary relationship. Not being quite sure of what we are doing or where it will lead us, we try on assent, we commit ourselves to affirmation. With luck, we find our efforts are rewarded. The vocabulary of faith begins."

I can't remember a time in history when the need for optimism and affirmation has been greater. In an article that examined how prevailing film sensibilities portrayed the question of individuality on screen in the last century, San Francisco Chronicle critic Mick LaSalle made this shocking claim:
"American movies [2004] are more cynical and despairing than before. Their implicit message: people are garbage and the world is terrifying."Negative images surround us. Unimaginable horrors are now part of our collective unconscious.

With the rule of yes, we call upon our capacity to envision, to create new and positive images. This yes invites us to find out what is right about the situation, what is good about the offer, what is worthy in the proposal. Exercising the yes muscle builds optimism. However, we sensibly understand that the practice of affirmation is not a guarantee of outcomes. Saying yes to life will not banish problems or promise eternal success. A positive perspective is a constructive one, however, and it is easier on those around us.

try this:

For one day say yes to everything that's offered. Set your own preferences aside. Notice the results. See how often it may not be convenient or easy to do this.

Obviously, use common sense in executing this rule. If you are a diabetic and are offered a big piece of pie, you'll need to find a way to protect your health. Perhaps you can say boldly, "Yes, I'd love to have this pie to take home to my son who adores cherries."

Inventing Proverbs

There is wisdom in all of us. A beloved game that I learned from Rebecca Stockley, a professional improviser and educator, involves inventing a new proverb by speaking it one word at a time. This is done by a group of players who add the next most logical word to what has gone before. Do this quickly without "thinking" of a good idea. When it is clear that the proverb is finished (and this seems to happen by a natural consensus), all the players put on a "knowing, wise look," tap their fingers together in a prayerlike mudra, and say, "Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes . . . ," affirming the wisdom of whatever sage or nonsense aphorism has been invented by the group. It is very easy to teach and to play this game, and it often releases a lot of laughter.

Liz, a graduate student in product design, stayed after class one day to share a story. She had just returned from being at home with her family, who were all reeling from the sad news of a cancer diagnosis for their father. "Everyone has been so disheartened about this that I thought we needed a little cheering," said Liz. "Improv was our tonic. I taught the Proverbs game to the family, and we sat around the dinner table playing it. We were all actually able to laugh at the sometimes wise and often crazy sayings that we created together. We needed this laughter."

"Always . . . look . . . before . . . crossing . . . a . . . chicken." Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!

"Try . . . not . . . to . . . laugh . . . when . . . you . . . look . . . at . . . your . . . waistline." Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!

"Women . . . know . . . when . . . the . . . soup . . . is . . . done." Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!

try this:

Teach the Proverbs game to some friends

and play it around the dinner table. Enjoy your combined wisdom.

[ the first maxim ]: say yes

•Just say yes.

•Become a "can-do" person.

•Look for the positive spin, for what is right.

•Agree with those around you.

•Cultivate yes phrases: "You bet"; "You are right"; "I'm with you"; "Good idea"; etc.

•Substitute "Yes and" for "Yes but." Add something to build the conversation.

•Exercise the yes muscle. This builds optimism and hope.

Revue de presse

“A marvelous guide to freedom and delight. Improv has become a wisdom tradition of its own and Patricia shows how its lessons can bring out the best in us.” —John Tarrant, author of Bring Me the Rhinoceros

“Patricia Ryan Madson is one of Stanford’s truly inspired teachers; she has changed the lives of thousands of students over the past twenty-eight years. In her smiling book, Improv Wisdom, she reminds us that being alive is like riding a bicycle—we always feel a little off-balance and insecure, but ‘in the act of balancing we come alive.’ She makes you want to get up and do something—try it out, make mistakes, laugh, play, and try it again.” —Charles Junkerman, Associate Provost and Dean of Continuing Studies, Stanford University

“Reading even just a few pages of Patricia Madson’s book might change your life forever. That’s what has happened to me. These pages are chock-full of wisdom, clarity, and helpful techniques on enhancing spontaneity in everyday life. Read this book—you will be glad and so will everyone else in your life.” —Nina Wise, author of A Big New Free Happy Unusual Life

“I have witnessed Patricia Madson’s magic touch in both her classes and her performances. Her students often describe her as a ‘goddess,’ but that may be an understatement. I rejoice that her wisdom is now available to new audiences.” —Philip G. Zimbardo, author of Psychology and Life and Shyness

“The premise of Patricia Madson’s book is astonishing: to practice the basic rules of improvisational theater is to walk a path toward a spiritually satisfying life. Her underlying claim is simple and sound: if you are willing to be completely present, making full use of whatever happens, you will find goodness in any situation. This is a lucid, wise, and free-spirited book.” —Norman Fischer, founder and teacher of the Everyday Zen Foundation

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 2456 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 162 pages
  • Editeur : Harmony; Édition : 1 (16 mars 2010)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B003CIQ4XY
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
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  • Lecteur d’écran : Pris en charge
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  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 5.0 étoiles sur 5 1 commentaire client
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Patricia is great.
Here's a book you have absolutely to buy : simple, smashing, full of good sense,
This is a must-have book, a book you gotta keep next to your bed, to read it and read it again.
It's an invitation to be natural, spontaneous, to let ourselves go cool, to stop being constantly worried about how to prepare things rather then starting things.
This is a book to keep preciously, and you have to pay a lot of attention if you lend it to a friend, you might not see it again.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) (Peut contenir des commentaires issus du programme Early Reviewer Rewards) 4.5 étoiles sur 5 125 commentaires
35 internautes sur 35 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 This book is a down-to-earth, inspiring, quick-read. 22 juillet 2015
Par Brian Johnson - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
In Turning Pro, Steven Pressfield describes an exercise from Improv Wisdom and says that this book is on his short list of indispensable books.

Of course, I got it immediately. Anything that makes that list is something I'm going to read. :)

And, here we are. Improv Wisdom rocks. So does Patricia Ryan Madson.

Patricia is an Emerita of Stanford University where she taught for three decades in the Drama Department. She integrates the wisdom of two primary, extraordinary teachers/philosophies: Keith Johnstone's Impro goodness + David Reynolds' Constructive Living mojo.

"A good improvisor is someone who is awake, not entirely self-focused, and moved by a desire to do something useful and give something back and who acts upon this impulse. My students wanted to know the password for joining the society of such people, to play fearlessly, and to work with greater ease.

Here is the password--it is yes! Understanding the power of yes is easy; practicing that acceptance and affirmation in daily life becomes our challenge.

I'm writing to encourage you to improvise your life, please. I want you to take chances and do more of the things that are important to you. I'm hoping that you will make more mistakes, laugh more often, and have some adventures...

What is missing in your life? The paperweight on my desk challenges me to ask the bumper-sticker question: What would you do if you knew you could not fail?" What would you do?

As improvisors we discover we don't need this unrealistic guarantee to begin. The only real failure is not doing anything. Why not explore, get moving on your life, kick-start your dreams, paint outside the lines? This book will provide inspiration and practical suggestions. Try them." ~ Patricia Ryan Madson from Improv Wisdom

This book is a down-to-earth, inspiring, quick-read featuring the thirteen maxims of improv living. It's packed with Big Ideas and practical exercises (Patricia calls them "Try this!" and they're great).

Here are the thirteen maxims: say yes + don't prepare + just show up + start anywhere + be average + pay attention + face the facts + stay on course + wake up to the gifts + make mistakes, please + act now + take care of each other + enjoy the ride!

To find 250+ more reviews visit
13 internautes sur 13 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Improv Is About Life 26 juin 2014
Par David A. Brock - Publié sur
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
The title may mislead some, thinking it's about drama, improvisation, written for and about actors. While that may be one audience, it's really a book about modern business and leadership. It's also a very personal book about living a full life and making a difference in the lives of others.

I picked up the book about a week ago, I've read it twice, I know I'll keep coming back to it. It's appealing on so many levels--the plain spoken thoughts, the inspirational examples and stories, the practical exercises to try things out for myself (Already, I've had a few Ta-Dah moments ;-)

To say it will change your life is a little too much and probably not what Ms Madson has intended. To say it's a tool to help you change your own life--should you choose to show up is more appropriate.

Kudo's and thank you to Ms Madson!
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 LOVE this book! 9 juin 2014
Par Diane Bolden - Publié sur
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
In his book, Turning Pro, Steven Pressfield references Patricia Ryan Madson. I love Steven Pressfield and I was intrigued by the title of this book, so I ordered it. I enjoyed every page, and even went back and re-read many sections. I love the playfulness of the approaches the author advocates, particularly those that fly in the face of the messages we are so often bombarded with that lead us into a futile search to try to be perfect and unique. Using Patricia's methods has already helped me to take the pressure off myself, allowing me to try things my perfectionist tendencies would have had me shy away from or procrastinate doing to the point of complete avoidance. The results have been illuminating, and the experience freeing. I can't thank her enough for writing this wonderful book!
7 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 On my top ten list 15 février 2013
Par Jill M. Minogue - Publié sur
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
I admit, I didn't want to read this book. And I didn't want to like this book. I am a planner, a list-writer, an analyzer. And I'm certainly not in the acting business. But,it was recommended by another author that I admire, so I bought it. I was so intrigued by the first maxim ("say yes") that I had to continue reading. In the end, I laughed and cried and related to eleven of the thirteen "maxims" which Madson offers. One of my favorites - "start anywhere" is in play at this very moment. This book with invigorate you, help you through the rough patches, and give the "average" (maxim five) person hope. You'll want to buy copies for all your friends - I did!
10 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 An Energizing, Inspiring Approach to Your Life 4 juillet 2009
Par Enamorato - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
While the reviews for this book mention Patricia Ryan Madson's involvement with improvisational theatre, I was more familiar with her work as a teacher of Constructive Living - a Western adaptation of Japanese psychotherapies by clinician David K. Reynolds. Reynolds' aim is to help his students learn to live a fully present, action-oriented life in a world where problems are just as inevitable as successes and suffering just as much a part of life as joy. "Improv Wisdom" is actually closer in vein to a Constructive Living text than a book geared for improvisational theatre: the focus is not just on theatre, but on making the most of life no matter what one's circumstances. In Madson's words, this is "Saying Yes!" to life. Even just the IDEA that our lives are fully improvised - that we're making it up as we go along - can be a truly life-changing concept for many of us who have been brainwashed into micromanaging and planning every detail of every moment of our careers, family life and even our leisure time.

Reynolds' classic Constructive Living (Kolowalu Books) is still in print. It is a concise, elegant little book that has provided me much help that I highly recommend. Madson's work, however, takes a creative and fascinating departure. Being a clinician, Reynolds' approach was aimed at outgrowing one's emotional obstacles, and while this emphasis certainly appears in "Improv Wisdom" (see in particular, Chapters 5, called "Be Average", and 12, called "Take Care of Each Other"), Madson's incorporation of Keith Johnstone's work on reawakening to spontaneity results in an approach that truly inspires an appreciation for every second of life.

Like Reynolds' book, "Improv Wisdom" is realistic, engaging and extremely energizing to read. As a whole, Madson has a more joyful, exciting tone that is a welcome counterpoint to Reynold's hard-edged pragmatism. The two books complement each other well. Some of the chapters are particularly refreshing: Chapter 1 ("Say Yes") thoroughly has the potential to open one's life up in surprising ways; Chapter 6 ("Pay Attention") wakes one up out of the trance of autopilot and self-absorption; Chapter 10 ("Make Mistakes, Please") is a welcome antidote to the art of not only making mistakes, but learning to use them in creative ways.

There is a lot of important insight in this book that will improve one's relationship with life itself. It would make a wonderful graduation present as well as a great read before a trip. I read it before a yearly camping outing along the Potomac River. It completely subverted my tendency to obsessively plan activities for every minute of the day and allowed me to be present and spontaneous in ways that I hadn't been since I was a child. My friends appreciated the change as well, as I was also more open and present for them than before. Highly recommended on its own, or as a compliment to Reynold's "Constructive Living."
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