Revealing yourself with care

improvbookThis week has been a mix of preparing papers to run the MA in Creative Producing at Mountview, taking on the co-ordination of the Producers’ Pool network, re-editing my own book “Your Life in Theatre” and going to celebrate the launch of Alison Goldie’s “The Improv Book” published by Oberon Books.

I’m really enjoying understanding Improv, and the world that my friend of 15 years has immersed herself in through her career. “This book should be on the bloody national curriculum!” Phill Jupitus.  It is amazing how much you can reveal about your inner world with care and consideration for yourself and others through improv and teamwork. I am learning so much which I will use in my group work.

This morning I was at a networking event in Suffolk and had the pleasure of a couple of sessions with business friends which gave me a focus for this blog – the question of how much you reveal the real you in public life, either intentionally or unintentionally.

From September I will be urging my cohort of MA students, and all the undergrads studying to strut their stuff upon the stage, to be careful about their public profile. They are at the start of their career and they don’t want to frighten the horses. A few judicious edits of Facebook party excess is never a bad thing – making sure anyone searching for you on Google will find the side of you that you want to put across.

But when you write a book, and even more fascinating for me – when I re-read a book that I’ve written – you realise just how personal and revealing it can be. I really like people to talk about their shadow side. It’s the shadows which help to make a deeper picture, but maybe not when you are first auditioning for Juliet, or first seeking to raise investment in a show.

Actors talk of their fear in being asked to appear as themselves, but we watch them perform in front of thousands in a theatre. Business leaders can learn much from this role play and preparation, which allows a presenter/performer to settle into a character and present what they want the audience to see. The team leader, the bringer of stern news, the sensible presenter of a business idea, the concerned listener at a board table. All these are persona which one can choose to adopt. Its what inspirational business coaches help to teach, RADA enterprises inspires, Alison offers in her Drama Business,  and Kath and I offer to so many business managers in East Anglia with “The Art of Being Heard”.

But then today, in a couple of special networking conversations, I was privileged to see the real person, the person with shadows and experience, worries and privacy. For me that is what makes me interested in coaching and building business and personal accord with people. However some of those conversations, if overheard at the same networking event, would have frightened the horses.

So my message in this blog is be aware what you are choosing to reveal. Think about Improv maybe using, as John Hegley puts it, this “fine fools’ guide” to look at the shadow and light, confidence and imagination.

I am so pleased I was so honest in my book – it makes it easier to be a real me. It is a pleasure to re-edit it, and now to begin the digest down for the international translated manuscripts, where some of the very personal stories will be carefully excised.

Fascinating life we all lead.  Thanks Alison for giving me a great book to recommend to Mountview, and any student of creativity and the imagination.

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