This Sunday at the Loose Moose Theatre in Calgary, Canada a group of improvisers will get together for a good cause. They will hold a benefit performance to aid in the rebuilding of The Court Jesters home in Christchurch, New Zealand.
If you remember, Feb 22, 2011, Christchurch was devastated by an earthquake that killed many and destroyed a large chunk of the city.
Emma Cusdin, a member of the Jesters, had been living in Calgary and exploring the Loose Moose when she had the idea to put some spontaneous entertainment together to raise cash and bring the plight of her home back to the public’s attention.
We hear about the initial devastation and then we move on to the next sexy disaster, forgetting about those still in the messes of Earthquakes, famine, disease and any other disaster.
Improvisers are in a perfect position to help those in need. We can mobilize quickly and adapt to almost any condition to put on a show that people will willingly come to.
It’s a common belief that performers are generally a self centered bunch, happy to get their time on stage and complain when their dressing room is missing a stocked bar. We know this isn’t true (of everyone). But it is a little surprising at how rarely we donate a show, a moment or a piece of our time and talent for a good cause.
Consider an idea being developed at the moment at the Loose Moose. “Thursdays for a Cause”. One day of the month would be given to a cause to aid in benefitting the community at large. In reality it takes little effort on the theatre’s side because the benefitting organization will take up the administration and the performers just need to drop in for a couple of hours and entertain.
There is a movement growing that looks at the win/win mentality of idealistic partnerships in the corporate world. Altruism is not all that it appears to be. When we give to others, the obvious outcome is a financial boost to a needy group and a focus of attention on their cause.
The unseen benefits include a broadening of the theatre’s audience base. (Consider the massive mailing list that the Cancer foundation or Alzheimer’s society advertises their programs to.)
There’s also the media possibilities as your company benefits from the ‘altruistic’ connection you are creating. There are other hidden benefits that make this more than a “freebie” but in fact turn it into a beneficial marketing venture.
And in the end, the idea of building a strong relationship with the community will only benefit you in the long run.
“Improv Meets Autism” was a successful fund-and-awareness raising Improvisational event put together by two German improvisers Christiane and Deniz Döhler whose son Luka has autism. http://www.artistsmeetautism.org/English/index.html
Reading about the SonRise Program which had great success with autistic children, Christiane and Deniz noticed that the program had similar qualities as improvisation; support, seeing offers and adding to them.
“After having overcome an initial shyness, I started by telling one workshop participant about the parallels between the pro-gram and improv and she immediately volunteered to come and play with our child. Two months later, it was ten improv players and we always explained the program in improv lingo. We kept looking for appropriate improv games and techniques that could help us reach our goal. And Luka’s development skyrocketed.
Search the internet and you will find numerous improvisation groups tackling issues and concerns to make the world a brighter place for everyone. Consider reaching out and offering your skills to a cause. You might discover that your own benefit is greater than the expense.
There’s a final note about the Christchurch fundraiser. Unexpectantly, Emma’s father passed away a few days ago and Emma was on the first flight home. She tossed in the towel for the benefit show. There was too much to do and she understandably wanted to be near her family.
Before her plane set down in her home of Christchurch, a group of improvisers in Canada had already taken up her cause. The show will go on for Christchurch. Take care Emma.