Improv is like a Swiss Army Knife, applicable to more jobs than most fully appreciate. It can serve as a gateway to new ideas, a workout for creative thought, and a bridge between unfamiliar persons.
T2P2 utilizes improv’s ability to explore big questions and spark new connections with its unique shows on public policy. Recently, the cast has also focused on using the tools of improv to teach non-improvisers how to exercise creativity muscles, to help coworkers connect and build comity, and to assist nonprofit and business organizations look at communication and innovation differently.
At the suggestion of one of their interns and a T2P2 fan, Minneapolis Institute of Art became interested in improv’s possibilities. Could T2P2’s ability to demystify public policy and make it fun also work with other sometimes distant, intimidating subjects? Like high art, for example? Could the practice and philosophy of unscripted theater bring something new to the museum’s work, inside and out?
After seeing several T2P2 performances and having many conversations on improv and art, leaders from the MIA wanted to try a grand, unscripted experiment. They have invited The Theater of Public Policy’s founders, Tane S. Danger and Brandon Boat, to serve as artists in residence at the museum for the next four to six months.
It’s is a humbling, daunting, but extremely exciting opportunity. Working together, Danger, Boat and the MIA plan to infuse new energy in some of the museum’s amazing programs, devise brand new events, lead staff development efforts, and even work with the board of directors. All this will be done using the creative tools and strategies found in improv but which so easily translate to every day work.
Danger and Boat will be in the museum approximately 20 hours each week. They have already led the first of many trainings for docents and tour guides at the museum. There will be other trainings and “challenges” for MIA staff, volunteers, and leadership. For those particularly interested, the pair will lead bi-monthly drop-in improv classes for MIA patrons and employees.
One of the most exciting aspects of the partnership will be regular T2P2 format shows about art. Similar to a Theater of Public Policy performance, the cast will talk to an expert and unpack the ideas through improv comedy. For these shows, topics might include a particular artist period in history, a unique work and what it’s supposed to mean, or even talking with artists about their motivation and passion.
It’s the beginning of a big new adventure for T2P2. But public policy fans shouldn’t worry. The team has several shows planned for this summer around issues of voter engagement, education, and the budget. Plus T2P2 will be part of the 2012 Minnesota Fringe Festival and is currently lining up some whip-smart guests to talk about big issues.
In the meantime, Danger and Boat would like to thank the MIA for this incredible opportunity to bring improv into one of the nation’s most prestigious art museums. It promises to be a summer to remember for all.