How Does Improv Integrate Cognition, Emotion, and Action? Part III- Interview with Jude Treder-Wolff

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Interview Series with Jude Treder-Wolff Part III

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Jude Treder-Wolff  author of the book, Possible Futures: Creative Thinking For The Speed of Life is a performer, trainer and creative arts psychotherapist who is doing some exciting work bridging expertise in  improvisation and emotional intelligence.  On September 21st she will be co-facilitating “Improvisation For Developing Emotional Intelligence: A Workshop for Clinicians and Educators” an experiential and discussion training workshop for therapists, counselors, health care professionals and educators that explores the relationship between the practice and philosophy of applied improvisation and the skills and mind set associated with emotional intelligence in Smithtown, NY.
Would you explain how learning improv techniques integrates cognition, emotion, and action? Why is this integration valuable?
An improv technique involves an agreement about what is going to happen – a cognitive frame is established, e.g. “we are the world’s biggest exaggerators – we exaggerate everything we talk about, using words and movement as much as can possibly be exaggerated and we here to debate the merits of the Affordable Care Act.”
The action is the scene playing out, and each player is responding in real time to what others put out there. Exaggerated movements, exaggerated emotions and exaggerated dramatic tension are taken to whatever heights the players want to go. In the process of playing out a scene like this, the focus on exaggera
ting and responding to what is expressed in the moment will hijack self-consciousness, inhibitions about looking silly or not making sense, and overall channel the tensions produced by over-thinking into creating something both fun and interesting. In any properly structured improvisation, the integration of cognitive, emotional and physical engagement is produced by the rules and agreements set up for the activity, which help to override the sense of threat, the physical inhibitions and the cognitive “freeze” that comes with overthinking, perfectionism, habits of mind developed from years of industrial-age education etc. Over time and with continued practice, improv provides a skill set that can replace the fear-based habits of mind -the integration of mind/body/emotions is a beautiful thing because that means we can access that mind set through a cognitive shift (mind), a physical shift (using the breath, movement, physical action) or an emotional shift to achieve the same result.
In addition to performing, Jude Treder-Wolff provides consulting for professional and personal development. Her book Possible Futures: Creative Thinking For The Speed of Life and blog Lives In Progress explores the ways technology is changing 21st century relationships and the creative mind set for success in the networked world. Her storytelling-style show Crazytown: my first psychopath was selected for the Midtown International Theatre Festival, the 2012 Chicago and San Francisco Fringe Festival and recently had 2 successful runs at Actors Theatre Workshop in New York. She has been interviewed for articles that appeared in national and local media, including the Los Angeles Times, New York Newsday, Orlando Sentinel, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, Woman’s Day, and The Three Village Times.  She can be reached at:



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