It might feel like a distant replicant memory but we used to perform shows to a packed out room, head down to the pub where we would have to actually squeeze past dancing people to get to the bar and then have shots and pints seated at a table of 20 improvisers plus friends and audience before bundling 6 people into a cab to dance the night away at The Arts Club in Soho before staying up late chatting outside Bar Italia to a friendly stranger while eating a pannini. And that was just a Tuesday.
Now we even have rules on how many people we can have in our own house. Earlier this year park benches were banned.
I’m not entering the debate about how many of these new rules are needed or not, as I don’t know myself, but I’m acknowledging that they are there.
From teaching our Jung improvisation course I’m a believer that the more energy in one direction we are forced into the greater the opposite energy will rise up in the subconcious and may pop up in surprising uncontrollable ways if it is not given a safe place to express.
So as rules and restrictions are put on usually highly sociable people and we find ourselves increasingly separated from each other in real-life I believe there is a release valve needed and we need to give ourselves permission to express anger, sadness, rage or whatever else we feel. Without the opposite energy being expressed it beds down deep within us and pops up in ways we don’t want it too, or the rage even starts to attack us instead.
And one thing I think is healthy is to break some rules. Not illegal or unsafe ones. But rules that aren’t really rules at all. By breaking some rules we find a creative freedom again as we realise we aren’t totally restricted afterall and it becomes our job to find a new creative freedom within the box we are currently in.
Yes we could all work on zoom all our lives in perspex boxes as email processing machines. But we aren’t robots we are humans. You funny things.
So here’s our top 7 tips for breaking rules that aren’t really there in the first place:
1. Stand in a middle of a field or park on a rainy day and shout “FUUUCCCCCKKKKK” as loudly as you can. For bonus points film it and send it to @hooplaimpro and we’ll share it. Actually fuck that you don’t have to do everything for social media. Just do it and tell nobody.
2. Get muddy. Go for a walk and deliberately walk through all the mud. Go running in rainstorms. The Dutch have a word “uitwaaien” that encapsulates the revitalising effects of taking a walk in the wind.
3. Have a naked day in your house. Maybe warn your housemates first.
4. Phone your family and tell them something nice you wouldn’t usually tell them but have always thought about them. Yeah not all breaking of rules is negative.
5. Do an online improv class so you get to play with 12 people instead of 6 and socialise as much as you want and go nuts. What you think I was about to write a blog and not slip in a promotion? You know how the internet works!
6. Punch stuff, but not people, without hurting yourself. Punch bags are great if you can get one. If not a pillow on your bed works great. Beat the shit out of it. You’ll feel great afterwards.
7. Wave at people. No matter where you are in the world right now, it is totally safe to wave at people. They might even wave back.
8. Get political. Upset about how the world is run? Take steps to run it yourself. Why not? Join a party, form a party. The improv party.
9. Put up posters in your local area for stupid things.
10. Get a pad of A4 paper and just freehand write constantly without worrying what comes out. Show nobody. Same with drawings.
11. Get a bar of soap and sculpt it into something for no reason.
12. Walk backwards for a bit around your park. This is weirdly therapeutic.
13. Walk away. Switch off email. Turn off your phone. Walk to the shop and get a kinder egg. Have a five minute break from being responsible and together.
14. Oh look there are 12 tips and the blog said 7, #fuckthesystem.
Most of all…..self-expression isn’t illegal, so do whatever want to help that. People might think you are weird. Personally I think it’s weird to not try to find ways to help self-expression. What you aren’t shouting fuucccckkkk in a field right now? How weird! How can you not do that?
Yes I know this doesn’t fix things like being worried about your job, not having a job, or not being able to pay rent. I wish improv could help that too, but hopefully it at least helps make life a bit more fun while we are sorting out the big things.