This activity explores the notion of resonance in improvisation. It is a very helpful activity for doing physical theatre work that is based around inter-personal dynamics. In an applied setting it can explore agreement/disagreement and the notion of affinity in vision and values and also in terms of decision making and leadership.
It’s a very simple, activity.
Participants find a place to stand, somewhere in the room. In the most open form of this activity, participants can simply begin to improvise conversation and movement – there is no theme.
In a more guided version, the facilitator can select a topic and an opening speaker. The group then dialogues on that topic, improvising the conversation.
Participants then move freely, walking closer to, or further away from other participants based on their feeling or sense of “resonance” with that person. It might be resonance with what they are saying, how they are saying it, and/or a less defined sense of resonance.
Resonance is a sense of “feeling with” or “feeling affinity with”. There is a sense of harmonious connection with that person. When we feel it less, we move away, into space in the room, or towards someone else, or a different group.
Resonance may change during the time for the activity. It might be that groups form, that someone isolates themself, or even that the whole group comes together.
Run the activity for as long as you wish.
The process will evolve, its tempo will shift; leaders may emerge who hold a deeper and longer resonance for people. Sometimes that resonance will be group-wide; other times it may suddenly fracture and the dissonant reaction will shatter the group connection physically.
The resonance may initially be “in the head” based on a construct of agreement and disagreement, but after a while that will evolve and become more subtle. Moments of dramatic tension and energy shift will occur. The group will begin to self-organise into different patterns of resonance, shown physically in the room as different group shapes and clusters.
Resonance may be hard to achieve at times, natural and easy at others. In a pure flow state, the resonance between people will seem to emerge mysteriously out of the improvisation taking place.
Sometimes the resonance will bear a close resemblance to status with a leader emerging, or even a number of competing leaders.
Sometimes it will be more subtle and different dynamics will emerge.
In an applied setting, the dialogue may focus on a challenge or question, such as the vision for the organisation. We may use the dialogue to discuss or debate a question. In a team situation we may discuss a topic as a means of allowing different team resonance to emerge. This can be debrief later and the activity repeated.
The activity, in its most open form is really just an invitation to improviser. It can be an excellent warm-up, playing as it does with an archetype: harmony. A high degree of resonance can emerge in a healing, connecting way. It can also be a sign of high rapport in a group, and can aid scripted theatre work, as well as developing physical trust.
How did the process evolve and change over time?
What does resonance mean for you?
How did the resonance appear and disappear?
What’s the relationship between resonance and agreement?
Who did you feel most affinity with, and why?
What triggers resonance?
Why and how did the resonance decline or disappear?
How did you feel mentally and physically during the activity?
How can we apply the idea of resonance to our current organisational challenges?
Variations of the activity
We can explore the idea of agreement/disagreement by simply inviting someone to speak on a theme and for people to move closer to them or further away based on the extent they feel they resonate with the speaker. Some will move away purely because they disagree. Others may disagree but stay close because they still feel affinity and resonance with the speaker.
We could also do the activity silently to music or without, put purely with movement and more or less physical contact.
Do try it. I’ll be posting more activities exploring resonance in the near future.
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