By Fred Koenig
More than 70 people got their Conference started with a laugh, and a challenge to think fast on their feet in the Thursday night session from the Core Practices Team.
It would be wrong to call the session a workshop – playshop would be more appropriate. Led by Rev. Jennifer Moxley of First UMC in Sikeston and her seminary friend Rev. Brent Levy of North Carolina, the group fumbled their way through a rapid-fire volley of improvisation exercises.
If you’ve seen the television show Whose Line Is it Anyway, you have a pretty good idea of improv in action. Moxley explained how improvising is more than making things up, it is learning rules and playing within the boundaries of rules, while having fun.
The room got warmed up by splitting up into groups and doing introduction games. In the first game, each person said his or her name with an adjective and a gesture. That was followed by a round in which they had to call someone in their group out by their adjective and gesture. They then all snapped their fingers in rhythm and went around the circle in order saying whatever word first came to mind.
Other improv games of the night included Try That On For Size; Yes, and…; Bus Stop; and Story, Story, Die. In addition to all the fun, at the conclusion, they discussed what it all meant. Levy said the skills of improv can come into play in many ways, even in meetings. “When you are in a meeting and you hear a bad idea, you can take that idea with Yes, and..., and keep yes, and...make it go somewhere,” he said.
Moxley asked the group how the fun of the night related to the Conference theme of Radical Hospitality. Rev. Bruce Jeffries, who participated in a round of Try That On For Size when he had to react to actions of someone else, said that brought it home.
“When we can react favorably to whatever comes our way, that really is radical hospitality,” Jeffries said.