Minneapolis parents are teaching new classes that apply improv to parenting.
“For a lot of our day-to-day interactions, we’re negotiating,” she said. “What’s a way you can make it more playful, and not necessarily about my agenda?”
She gives an example of trying to pick up her son at preschool, while he runs in the opposite direction down the hall. In response, Gudeman pretended to smear him with a giant stick of “glue” so he would “stick” to her as she picked him up. She said young children aren’t always being defiant, and it helps to look at the world from their view.
“I’m often trying to get my son to smile or laugh,” she said. “You’re looking for ways to agree, or at least accept what’s happening, and finding ways to build stuff off of that,” she said.
Gudeman met collaborator and parent Jen Scott at an Early Childhood Family Education class at Kenny School.
“[Scott has] been performing and teaching improv for over a decade,” Gudeman said. “She was the catalyst for me trying it.”
Scott has taught at the Brave New Workshop Student Union since 2001 and teaches regularly at Children’s Theatre Company, Park Square Theatre and Pillsbury House + Theatre. Gudeman has worked as an athletic coach, classroom teacher and outdoor educator.
Improv Parenting offers a variety of classes for adults-only, kids and parents together, and kids’ free-play classes with a few improv-inspired games. They’re teaching this fall at venues like HUGE Improv Theater and the Center For Performing Arts.
“I can’t encourage enough just trying it,” Gudeman said. “It’s super low-stakes and low-key and it’s worth trying. It gets you out of your head. And it’s great for public speaking, great for the workplace and thinking on your feet.”