Abraham Lincoln loved to read Shakespeare and other literary works to an audience, complete with dramatic character voices. People loved to hear Abe read, he was captivating. He would become totally engrossed in delivering the lines of the play, verse, or prose he was reading with maximum impact.
Lincoln was in what modern day creativity scholar Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi would call a state of “flow” forgetting all else. Many creative producers achieve flow in their occupational work. What was unique about Lincoln was the intentionality with which he sought out that “flow state” in one of his primary liesure activities.
This “habit of play” that Lincoln exercised was likely acquired when coping with repeated tragedied and traumatic losses that commenced very early on in his life. It was invaluable in helping him keep a cool head and focus on being an effective Commander in Chief during what was arguably the nation’s most tenuous and strained age.
After my first improv class this evening at Austin’s ColdTowne Theater, I left understanding first-hand the power of Lincoln’s mind-hack that likely deserves much credit for enabling him to effectively lead the Union to prevail and reunite as peacefully as possible.
Focusing on creating alternate realities and conveying a message dramatically is fun. It literally transports you. There is no room in your mind for your present reality when you are focused on creating a vivid dramatic reality with every fiber of your being.
The introductory class I attended at ColdTowne Theater was about an hour and it was amazingly fun. Listening exercises that train students to focus on verbal and non-verbal communication cues are a core component of the intro. class. It was good, clean, silly, immersive, collaborative, fun in a zero-judgement environment with great energy from like-minded students and teachers.
After Improv Class, when you come back to the “reality” of life as a creative professional (we are ALL creative professionals) you may feel like you’re back from vacation. You will likely feel more than ready to tackle whatever hard problem or challenging client you are currently dealing with through fresh eyes.
Interested in exploring more on the Benefits of Improv Classes? Here’s a great US News & World Report Article on Improv’s many benefits.