Connect – Play – Learn

Improvisational skills to strengthen your group

Organizations and working groups need to get along with each other.  Not always easy!  Through simple and joyful improvisational activities, you and your group members will be introduced to essential skills for building creative flow with your colleagues and finding greater resilience inside yourselves.  These practices include:

  • Listening more receptively
  • Building upon each other’s ideas instead of blocking them
  • Quieting the inner critic
  • Accepting differences
  • Unleashing innovation
  • Finding creative practices that support personal renewal
  • Fostering organizational culture where these qualities are alive

Training options

These workshops are excellent for a wide range of ages — adults, teens, and seniors– of any physical and theatrical abilities (or lack thereof), and with group size from 8 to 100.  The formats below can be chosen singly or combined.  We recommend having some social time after any of these programs for participants to connect with each other and to unwind.

  • a 90-minute interactive workshop on Zoom
  • a 2-3 hour interactive workshop in person (outdoors or fully vaccinated)
  • a 60 minute performance (with actors embodying true stories of participants) combined with a 30 minute interactive workshop — both on Zoom

When might these programs be especially useful?

During times of organizational:

  • Transition:  arrivals or departures of key members, new goals or policies
  • Stress: feeling pressured, short staffed, buffeted by national or global events
  • Reflection:  retreats, evaluation times, pauses in activity
  • Celebration: marking achievements, seeking connection and rejuvenation
  • Misunderstanding: untangling conflict, affirming common values
  • Planning: new groups starting to work together, visioning & goal-setting

What to expect

We know that some people love improvisation, and for others the very word creates anxiety:  “Will I need to perform?  Will I be judged and look stupid?”

Participants are consistently relieved by the ease, safety, and support created in all of our workshops.  We practice embodied attentive listening and play, not comedy improv.  No one performs.  No one needs to be fast or clever.  We are committed to:

  • Safety and consent:  With any activity we offer, you  have the option to step out at any time. Taking care of your own physical and emotional well-being is most important.
  • Acceptance:  In no activities is anyone judged or ranked.  We applaud every person for the courage to simply show up.
  • Respect:  Laughter is frequent–but no one is ever laughed at.  Activities are designed to honor everyone present.
  • Welcoming difference:  Many exercises invite participants to reveal what is important to them.  We acknowledge differences in identity, background and perspective, and appreciate each person who takes the risk to share.

Workshop outline

All our Connect-Play-Learn sessions are lively and fully interactive. Most include a variety of whole and small group activities and a variety of improvisational forms– sound, movement, theater, singing, writing, drawing.  Sessions include:

  • Setting the context for safety and play
  • Warm-up activities: improvisation basics–listening, saying yes, trusting impulses
  • Core skills and content, based on the workshop goals:  Exercises are modeled in the whole group, then practiced in smaller groups (often of 2-4 participants), and then briefly discussed in the whole group to distill the lessons.
  • Reflection: looking at ways to integrate their workshop experiences going forward — skills and qualities that can enhance their relationships with friends, family members and colleagues.

A few examples of activities:

  • Embodied empathy: In 3’s, each person takes a turn to share two feelings about an issue in the organization or wider world that they are passionate about.  The two listeners then embody the feelings they heard.
  • Self-nurturance through creative expression: Participants select one of these three breakout groups (1) writing/drawing, (2) singing, or (3) movement.  Through these modes of creative expression, members explore what sustains them during stressful times.
  • Build versus block:  Through a variety of interactive games, participants experience viscerally what it’s like to “join and build” rather than “criticize and block.”   These skills are then applied to an organizational issue.

Lead trainers

Anne and Christopher Ellinger have designed and led interactive workshops for 40 years.  Over the past 20 years, as co-founders of True Story Theater and Playback North America, they have trained dozens of Playback Theater companies and been in over 700 Playback Theatre performances and workshops.

During decades together, Anne and Christopher have built social benefit organizations, published a journal about money and values, ​and ​written ​six ​books, ​including Getting Along: skills for life-long love.

Other trainers are brought in from the troupe based on needs of particular trainings and to better match the demographics of your group.

See thumbnail bios of others in the ensemble.

For more information

or to explore having a workshop and/or performance

please contact: Christopher[at]