Reaction Time

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Hi everybody. I’m baaa-aack. I suppose you thought that when the academic year ended you wouldn’t see a post from me until September. I mean, by the end of the semester I felt like my head was on fire. Well there is no way I would leave you guys in the lurch. If there is one thing I’ve learned at Columbia College Chicago it’s that you’ve got to be accountable to the team. Luckily I learned a lot more than one thing.

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That being said, the end of the year arrived faster than usual. That isn’t a perceptual observation where I felt like things were happening faster than they were.  There were real scheduling changes this academic year shortening the semester. Grrr…I am totally NATO’d out. I got that off my chest so I can move on.

Now that I’ve had a few days away from campus, I’m taking the time to exhale, clear my head, and prepare for next semester. What will I be doing? Maybe classes? Some of my classmates are taking summer classes. I guess hitting the books is never a bad idea. I’m thinking that I need to step away from the books and the hard deadlines. I’m planning to observe and create. The idea is to use what’s going on around me as inspiration for new script and then preproduction. Last week I had a day full of inspiration. I’m not talking about the over-hyped NATO insanity. I got to watch my nephew’s t-ball team and check out some improv.

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You’re probably thinking “Why is he talking t-ball?” There is something amazing about watching kids develop a skill. Some of them want to play, and others are forced to be there. Week after week they get better…a little better. But when the game is going on the kids are just having fun. They don’t know enough to over think. Catch, run, throw, and hit. That’s all they do. It’s really simple. But if they do it at the right time in the right order, they get a hit, or make a great out, or run past home plate. There’s joy behind it. Even when they are standing out in the field chasing butterflies, they are having fun reacting.

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I didn’t just spend time watching six-year-olds pick their noses in the outfield. I went to go see ComedySportz Chicago with my classmate Jerrod Howe. This was interesting because I got to see people who take their craft seriously. What I like about improv is that once you have the formula, you don’t have to think. The action is spontaneous and irreverent. Without thinking, through trained impulse, you might even tell a hilarious story. So I sat there with a three dollar beer and enjoyed a pretty funny show.

At t-ball and ComedySportz I saw people act and react. That gave me a slightly different take on communicating a story. Creating a story is not always about thinking everything through. Sometimes you just have to react. Just go with your gut feelings and let them guide you. Here’s the thing: if I’ve been trained properly, those reactions will take me where I want to go. It will get the emotion out and connect with a story. It looks like this will be an interesting summer.