First ICE CaPS, Next Improv Theatre Troupe?

2013-11-14 18.43.34-1On Thursday, November 14, the IceCaPS students participated in a fun-filled evening with Father Cregan. Fr Cregan is a Theater Professor at Villanova, the head of the Theater Department, and a member of the Order of Saint Augustine. Fr Cregan specializes in getting students to think outside of the box.

The theme for the evening was unlocking the creative potential that is hidden inside each of us. As college students, we often repress our free spirits, preferring to stick within the social norms so as to feel less “awkward” and more “normal Villanova”. Fr Cregan sought to dispose of this immediately. We first participated in free-breathing and movement activities, designed to relax our minds and spirits, and focus our energy exclusively on the room that we were in. Immediately I forgot about all of the day’s stresses and felt comfortable in the room of my peers.

We proceeded to each take a piece of paper. Following instructions from Fr Cregan, we would draw artistic elements on the paper and pass to the person to our right. After we received our original papers back, they looked nothing like we left them. We were tasked to create a dramatic movement inspired by the drawing. The room was quite the sight as we all performed our routines together, weaving in and out of each other, speaking seemingly random sounds and working off one another to create one large production.

After completing our work of art, the group paired up for another movement activity. This time, we were to follow the hands of our partners with our eyes as one of the partners led the pair around the room. Fr Cregan would stop us at random points, and ask the observers what story we were telling with our actions. From an explosion scene to a curious couple in the park, it is incredible what you can find when you seek a deeper meaning.

But Fr Cregan would save the most meaningful activity for last. Performing an activity with the whole class is one thing- performing it in front of the whole class is a different story. Improvisation is the highest form of creativity, and we would have to perform an improvisation skit with one other person without knowing who their character was. Improv is extremely difficult because just when you are trying to steer the conversation one way, you are blindsided by something your partner says and are taken in a completely different direction. There are awkward periods of silence and laughter from the audience, and I’ll admit a couple of incredulous looks on my face as to what my partner said. But it was a successful skit and memorable skit overall.

This event had a profound impact on my views of creativity. I joined the IceCaPS program because I wanted to expand my creative side to compliment my strong business background. This evening was all about stepping out of your shell and unlocking creativity- the 5 year old child in each of us as Fr Cregan put it. I feel very strongly that improvisation is a powerful tool for all leaders to possess, as not all teamwork in life is scripted. We don’t always know where life is going to take us, but it is important to be able to react positively when life throws a curveball at you. More than anything, Fr. Cregan taught us that its not about just being a business student, or just being an engineering student, or just being a nursing student. To play the game of life you have to have the full package- the complete set of tools that will set yourself up for success in any situation.