Tina Fey… and Improv as a metaphor for the biblical drama.

I’m working today on revising the theological overview chapter for the Slow Church book. One of the key ideas that I borrow from pastor and theologian Sam Wells is that:

“Improvisation in the theatre is a practice through which actors develop trust in themselves and one another in order that they may conduct unscripted dramas without fear.”

I’ve been encouraged recently by some early readers of this chapter to make the improv metaphor robust…

This morning as I was getting ready to work on this chapter, I stumbled upon a great blog post by my friend Jen Michel, in which she reflects on Tina Fey’s thoughts on improv in her recent book Bossypants.  I went and dug up this passage [CLICK HERE to read the passage in Google Books -- Scroll up after clicking, the passage is in the gray box. ]. There is a lot of good stuff here but my imagination was captured by two thoughts:

1) [The Second Rule of Improv] “YES, AND means don’t be afraid to contribute. It’s your responsibility to contribute. Always make sure you’re adding something to the discussion. Your initiations are worthwhile.” (No one is a passive observer in the biblical drama).

2) “THERE ONLY NO MISTAKES, only opportunities.” (This seems to ring true with an eschatology of God’s reconciliation of all things)

I’m only beginning to learn about improv…
Anybody with more experience have insights into how improv is reminiscent of our engagement in the biblical drama?

  • Catchim Tim

    Kevin Vanhoozer book The Drama of Doctrine is a really good read for thos topic

  • http://theatricaltheology.wordpress.com/ Wesley Vander Lugt

    I’m glad to hear you are going to flesh out the improv model a bit in your book, Christopher. I’ve dealt with this topic a lot, and summarize some issues people have with improv as a model for Christian living and some better ways of thinking about it in this post: http://www.transpositions.co.uk/2010/09/issues-with-improv/

    The concept of “status” is also really important in improv and in the Christian life, and I summarise this in a post on my blog: http://theatricaltheology.wordpress.com/2009/12/04/status-should-we-play-high-or-low/

    Also, if you just search for improv or improvisation on my blog, you might find some other stuff that is useful to you. I hope it’s helpful!
    ~Wes

  • JoeBoyd77

    Christopher – I’m (very slowly) writing a book in improvisational christianity. I have some early thoughts on my blog – http://joeboydblog.com/?s=improvisational+christianity

    For me, it’s all there. Life is improv – God is an impov God.

  • http://love2justice.wordpress.com Joe D.

    I first heard this analogy from NT Wright’s Scripture and the Authority of God and I have been fascinated with it ever since. Looking forward to your thoughts on it!

    Also, thanks for the great links Joe & Wesley!

  • Hannah Kallio

    I’m part of a simple church that meets in our home. We’ve taken the metaphor one step further, and we actually do improv as a group as a way of experiencing these truths. I recently taught a workshop on simple church practices for families, and “Yes, and…” was one of the games we demonstrated. There’s so much depth (and fun) in this concept for anyone willing experience it for themselves.


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