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Friday, November 04, 2005


Gifted Imagination

How precisely can you visualize events, real or imaginary? Last night at my Storytelling course taught by the talented Helen Mintz (no link because, can you believe it, she doesn't have a website!) we were discussing the ways we remember stories.

Remembering is a necessary skill when telling any good story, improvised or not. It's important to notice what has already happened in the story and lead it to some kind of satisfying conclusion. In Playback theatre, it's essential to the teller and the entire performing group that all the plot points are shown. When I'm improvising I often "go blind", by tuning out visual information. This gets in the way of group creativity and is something I work on improving.

Discussion with the class might have revealed the reason for my troubles! Surprise surprise, I remember differently to the other participants, by watching the movie in my head and describing or playing what I see on my imaginary screen. It's very vivid and rich, lots of detail, even smells and sounds come through. So it makes sense that I would not pay as much attention to perceptual data in my physical surroundings.

Being too firmly rooted in the real world never felt natural, but is much easier since I started improvising and meditating. I simply can't do either unless I am in the moment. My guess is that this vivid imagination developed in childhood, when my need for stories was like my need for air. Is this a blessing or a curse? Like all things gifted, it depends. Now that I have an awareness of why I go blind on stage, I can start investigating methods of preventing it. My wild imagination must still be useful for something or I would have grown out of it. I just wish I knew what!

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