You never realize how diverse cultures can be until you run into the differences. Yep, there I was at Helsinki train station expecting to take any train with my previously booked ticket.
Ha! Any train! Silly me. Booked, Laura. You booked a place, a seat, a specific time (being: 3 hours ago). In an extremely well-organized country like Finland travelers decide on a time and they stick to that.
I suddenly felt very exotic and laid-back.
The wonderful thing about being outlandish is that -as a trainer- I can bring something new. So when I knew I would be in Finland for a week, the Helsinki based group IMP organized workshops and a show with me. I brought some Dutch views on playfulness and using the space and the participants brought some Finnish commitment and hard working attitude. Pretty unique combination.
Teaching the workshops left me very inspired. These Finnish improvisers set their teeth into something and then not let go until they get it. There is no rush and they are not afraid to not like something. And share that with me. Until they do. Then they almost won’t let go again of their newfound toy.
I was there for 2 open workshops, 1 private coaching and 1 show. In the workshop Playfulness we worked on status and playing with accepting and not accepting authority. What better end of the workshop than one of the players shushing me and taking over the game? I was so surprised, brilliant move.
The workshop Using the Space & Moving was rat packed: with players and with things to learn. It included transportation, sports, professions, locations, doors, heights, movement, break-ins and pursuits. Some truly exciting scenes emerged. Did I mention these Finnish improvisers were a fanatic bunch? They were.
For the private coaching I headed to Tampere to work with Improvisaatioteatteri Uusi Kattaus. The 5 players told me that they were open to anything I wanted to share with them. This put me in the enjoyable position to improvise while training. In the one exercise I could see their strengths and difficulties and I could choose the next exercise accordingly. The longform we closed the coaching with was undoubtedly festival-worthy.
This particular longform format was an adaptation I made of La Ronde. It was also the format we at LéSPACE at their Evening of Improvisation. It was great fun to share the stage with 3 IMP ladies and my good friend Sinimaria. All in all an inspiring night of improvised flute, dance, shortform, longform and a typical Finnish pace.
I recommend going to Finland for the beautiful nature, the lovely people, the saunas, and the lack of hurry in their improv. Just be sure to catch your train on time.
Big kiitos to Hazel, for all the amazing work she has done for me, and to Enna, for hosting me in her lovely home. My thanks also go to Hanna-Riikka, Jacintha, Joose, Sally, Uusi Kattaus, Senja, IMP and the many workshop participants.