Improv at PVI
LINDA KOEHLER/TIMES NEWS Stan Stewart of InterPlay, left, and Pleasant Valley Intermediate 7th grade students Destynee Mellano and Lauren Newton and InterPlay's Anita Bondi, right, are following the directions of another student during a improvisation "playshop."
Anita Bondi asked Susan Featro's Pleasant Valley Intermediate School's seventh grade German class, "What is improvisation?"
"Expressing feelings," one said.
"Making up some stuff," said another.
"Why is it important to make up stuff?" Bondi asked.
"So the story will go on," replied one student.
"To make it fun," said another.
Then Bondi and Stan Stewart led the class through a series of improvisational exercises, starting with going around and having each one say his or her name and one thing they like to do after school. Then they gave their German name and had to tell something they like to do but by gestures. Bondi and Stewart led them in exercises using stomping feet and clapping in rhtymic sounds followed by voice sounds.
Bondi and Stewart are certified InterPlay instructors. They teach InterPlay to adults every Monday night at Welspring Holistic Center in Stroudburg.
"InterPlay is an active creative way of unlocking the wisdom of the body," says Bondi.
"It makes connections in the brain. When called upon to do something on the spot, different parts of the brain are used. It brings fun to the learning process," said Stewart.
"It requires students to be creative, to improvise, to think quickly on their feet, to tell stories through words and movement and it helps to develop teamwork. These are all things that are important in learning a foreign language and I believe this 'playshop' will lead students to become better writers in all of their classes, preventing students from having 'writer's block' and help students to allow their true voices to come out in their writing," said Featro.
Featro applied for a Pleasant Valley Educational Foundation grant, making it possible for InterPlay to work with her classes throughout the day.
Bondi and Stewart told the students to think about commitment.
"Focus on one spot. Then I want you to go to that spot. You can get there anyway you want to but get there and then own it. Make it yours," instructed Bondi.
Some students got there in slow motion, others rushed, while others waved their arms, twirled and made ryhtmic sounds.
In the final moments of the class, Bondi asked each student to finish the sentence of "Improvisation is great because..."
The answers ranged from "I can be crazy," to "it let's me express myself," to "it's awesome."
"Improvisation puts you in the present moment. I hope the students get some skills for life from this. Things don't always go the way we want it to in life. Improv helps us switch gears on the spot, better able to handle those things thrown at us in life," said Bondi.