By Shane Kulman
To explain my improv acting experience, is like answering “what is the meaning of life.” It doesn’t feel simple, and yet it feels as simple as breathing.
Before going to The Open Door Acting company. I was a pretty bitter, cynical, hard to please, negative thinker, judgmental woman. I hid all this VERY well, and went from self loathing as a teenager and young adult, into a grown woman who had found sources to believe there wee other ways of being, through reading, metaphysical classes at the open center. So I had lots of information, but I was still playing out my role, as a woman on a hunt for a husband and the conforming American dream, which I had never questioned, I didn’t’ know there was any alternatives…
Also at the time, I was a special education therapist, and was working full time one on one with children with autism. I was drained, and going to bars after work because that’s the only way I knew how to have fun. One of my autism therapy colleagues invited me to this class, I was annoyed it was all the way on the Upper West Side, and as I drove there, I was falling asleep, it was another low energy, dare I say boring day.
I left class feeling energized, awake, hopeful and wildly creative. I thought it was a fluke. I went back the following week, and again I arrived feeling irritated, tired, cranky and hungry. AGAIN, I left physically and mentally feeling wildly alive. This was something to pay attention to.
For the next two years, I ONLY went to improv acting class, I dropped a huge social scene, I dropped any friends that wouldn’t attend class with me. I was hooked, and why? Because I felt better, amazingly better. I felt better about money, my relationships with family, how I approached my therapy work, and how I saw myself. It wasn’t all overnight, but my body and soul knew where I should be hanging out for the greatest good. And it was this improv class, and naturally I loved it so much, I began training to teach the work. I used it with children with autism, I used it with parents, educators, young adults in prison, aging adults, teenagers in public schools, and it always resonated. It always proved to make a person shine.
The style of improv that I love and teach is based on saying, “no.” It’s a way to create connection, truth, share self expression and get personally liberated from any thoughts and experiences that keep a person prisoner to their limitations.
On a metaphysical level, once certain expressions are expressed, the body doesn’t know if it’s “real” or not, hence the stage. The way my teachers say it, “it’s being real in an imaginary set of circumstances.”
I grew up not feeling my feelings, it wasn’t cool to be sad, or joyful, and although I saw and experienced a lot of anger growing up (in Canarsie Brooklyn.) It was never a safe healthy anger, it was out of control, messy and scary. So my coping mechanisms were to stay numb, and blame everyone else for their stupidity.
I learned new concepts and a whole new language at The Open Door Acting Company;
And so much more, my mind and body got to work together, so strongly that my limited egoic thinking couldn’t work anymore. Fighting for my limitations had no fuel, and the community that was involved only knew me in this profound way, and so all the voices that were trying to keep me small and fearful, had to be quiet.
There is tremendous research in how the brain receives this information and energy, as a scene is going on. The tears, the yelling, the sorrow the raw emotion that emerges during a scene is in fact real, the storylines are not. And then, when the scene is over, the body experiences a relief, and gratitude to go back to the life it knows.
It’s therapeutic, but it’s not therapy, and this is the core reason it’s healing. Talking is limited, but talking, feeling and being is expansive and creative, so the right brain feels safe to see what’s there, and the left brain knows there is an ending, so the usual avoidance of fear of going down a rabbit hole, does not exist.
If there was one outcome that was most popular after every class it would be
The tools used are so light and simple, they can be used anywhere in life. Love relationships, family, around money and business, and within ones self to feel grounded, authentic and 100% trusting.
This work is for everyone, life is a stage, every moment is actually improvised. Working with the unknown is this specific modality, is the most fun, efficient way of moving through difficult, challenging, stressful and of course awkward moments, that create the human experience.
Shane Kulman is a transformational guide for sensitive women, men, and children who seek to confidently share their creative gifts in the world. Founder of Enchanted Embodiment and New York’s Awkward Enchanted Coven, Shane is the author of From Anxiety to Ease… The Feminine Way: Activities to Put Yourself at Ease in Under 10 Minutes. Her whole career she has been a specialist in working with sensitive souls. As the founder of Your Beautiful Child, she has helped hundreds of families improve their relationships with their children, especially children with autism. Shane has a master’s in special education from Pace University, and a background in the arts, including theater and dance, and she brings embodiment, authentic relating, and improvisation techniques into all her workshops.
VitaminR’s VisionWorking Series: Improv for Difficult Conversations in Sales, Negotiations & Relationships
An Evening Workshop with Shane Kulman
Wednesday, May 29, 2019, 6:00 – 10:00 pm
To learn more and register, click here.