A FAMILY THAT PLAYS TOGETHER: IMPROVISATION IN HONG KONG

Friday February 8 2008

Last week, several Hong Kong schools learned how to improvise from the lively Sanderson-Green family, on tour from Western Australia. Father Michael, mother Angela, son Mundawae and daughter Poppin travel and teach people games to ignite learning. If you have not played before Teams of players compete in a variety of fast, exciting improvising games, using mime and spoken English. Angela and Michaels philosophy is to let everyone have a go. Their excellent Australian Institute of Theatresports ® teaching guidebook is titled -Yes Let’s!
For a week at Aberbeen Baptist Lui Ming Choi College in Ap Lei Chau, more than half of the school had training classes, with the Sanderson Green family. Their English teachers all took part in a Saturday improvisational training session. On Friday, half the school attended a two-hour show of twelve games, presented by the lucky Form 1 - 6 classes who had taken part in the training.
There was an exciting atmosphere in the school Hall, as Michael, Angela and the schools NET, Ms Debbie Warton worked the crowd. They explained the steps of each game as the teams went onstage, while the audience was expected to interact and be an active part of the show. A team of Form 7 student translators added to the entertainment by clowning around while translating the instructions into Cantonese and controlling the microphones.
Michael and Angela worked with over 80 students onstage in an interesting way - they are part teachers, part- actors and part-sheep-dogs! Their children, Mundy and Poppin also joined the teams and helped to demonstrate and play the games. Many games like ‘Space Jump’ involve short, sharp physical imitations and variations, transforming and developing teammates ideas. Some games require teams to make up stories in English, or to show different emotions. Many involve responding to suggestions from the audience. In the hilarious Expert double Figures, two students share one character, one does the talking and the other makes the hand actions. Some students showed outstanding natural acting and improvising talent.
When the English teachers also appeared onstage with the student teams, spontaneous roars of approval echoed through the Hall. The acting Principal, Ms Yeung, later reminded a staff meeting of the importance of Michael and Angela’s philosophy: allowing students to take risks and deal with failure. A week of exposure to the visiting performers gave many students the confidence and skills to teach their classmates how to take risks and have fun competing in teams.

Report from : Tina Engelbogen, Yu Chun Keung Memorial College No. 2
Hong Kong