Being + Becoming – It’s Time to Ditch the Script

In case you haven’t heard, the world is in crisis right now. We have big complex issues that need real solutions. But none of them will be solved if we can’t figure out how to talk to each other. Right now, everything seems to be a stalemate. It’s kind of a “my way or the highway” kind of situation on both sides.

The problem we’re all so frustrated about is that no matter how right we may be or feel about whatever issue it is, consensus feels like it’s never going to happen, whether it’s in Congress, on the streets in protest, or in arguments with family members after dinner. As in, “if you don’t agree with me and accept my solution, not only are you wrong but you’re a bad person.” This kind of shaming rarely leads to reconciliation and consensus.

Are We Truly Stuck?

The real question is, are we doomed to failure because all of the tools we’ve been using it haven’t worked so far? Or is it possible to create something new – a new way to talk to each other so that we can reach consensus and move forward?

Maybe we’re following a script that isn’t working? Maybe it’s time to improvise?

And that’s what we’re going to learn about today in our conversation with Marian Rich and Carrie Lobman from the East Side Institute, co-authors of “Playing Around with Changing the World,” a chapter about the East Side Institute’s International Class in the book called The Applied Improvisation Mindset, edited by Caitlin McClure and Theresa Robbins Dudeck, to be published by Bloomsbury Press early 2021.

Meet Marian and Carrie

Marian Rich is an international performance activist, actress, comedic improviser and theatrical director who has spent over 30 years leading playful workshops and programs in which people come together to grow and develop. As faculty at the East Side Institute, she leads playful and philosophical sessions during the Institute’s International Class residencies that have impacted activists, educators and scholars from around the world who are looking for ways to infuse their work with the power of performance. She is a co-founder of the Global Play Brigade.

Carrie Lobman, Ed.DCarrie Lobman,  Ed.D. is associate professor and chair of the department of Learning and Teaching at the Rutgers University Graduate School of Education and the Leader of Education and Research at the East Side Institute. She is a member of the national board of directors of the All Stars. Carrie is a sociocultural scholar and play movement leader. Her research examines the relationship between play, performance, learning and development for people of all ages and the importance of outside of school programs for providing young people with developmental experiences. She facilitates the webinar series “Play, Development and Social Justice” and serves as a mentor to emerging performance activists around the world and is on the board of directors of the All Stars Project, a national leader in after school development. Carrie is the author or editor of three books: Unscripted Learning: Using Improvisation across the K-8 CurriculumBig Ideas and Revolutionary Activity: Selected Essays, Talks and Articles by Lois Holzman and Performance and Play: Play and Culture Series, Volume 11 . She has authored dozens of articles. She received her doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University and is a past president of The Association for the Study of Play and the Cultural Historical Activity Theory SIG of the American Educational Research Association.

For most of the last 3-400 years human beings have been defined by that we are thinkers and we are reactors. Obviously thinking is one of the many things we can do. [But] we are the species that created the concept of thinking. We are the species that created the concept of self. We are creators and performers of our lives and of everything that humanity has created both good and bad. – Carrie Lobman, Ed.D.

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“People shut down when they feel triggered, and they remove themselves from the relationship. What I’m always interested in is relationality. Could you do something so radical as to move closer in a moment of feeling triggered? Is that even remotely possible?”

-Marian Rich


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  1. RUBI

    Wonderful podcast. When I was 20 something, I joined a workshop at the institute in Boston. It opened my eyes like nothing else had. It was a group of gays and straights working together to learn about homophobia. I still use what I learned there, 40 something years later.

    • Kara Stewart Fortier

      What a great topic to explore with this method! I can’t wait to keep exploring the work of the East Side Institute.


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