Many years ago, before I went to university in 1972, I read a book about improvisation by Viola Spolin . One particular idea has stayed with me down the years. I lost track of the book but I have used her idea of 'point of concentration' many times.
In improvised theatre the point of concentration is something the actors focus upon, to create a particular effect for the audience. I think Spolin used the first act of Tchaikovsky's opera The Queen of Spades . It is set in a park and the chorus plays people strolling around the park, including children playing, etc. How do you get it to look as if the people in the park are milling around at random? It could so easily look staged.
Spolin's solution was to have the actors in the wings face each other across the stage. They would play a game which involved on certain cues, crossing the stage in character. These crossings looked far more natural than any prearranged signals might. The game is the point of concentration. The audience see people walking around a park, not the game.
As a community development worker I have found this an invaluable idea. I ask myself what I need to focus upon to achieve my goals. It is not always the direct path that leads to the goal. Frequently short term problems obscure the long term focuses for local groups. Rivalries, usually over resources, conceal the long term benefits of working together. The point of concentration should be the long term goals, as this will often enable competing groups to collaborate.
Some readers might be asking, why didn't he google Viola Spolin? To be honest I thought she would be a forgotten name. Not a bit of it. She is very well known in improvised theatre. I think I've found the book I read all those years ago. Some revised edition changed the name from point of concentration to focus. A shorter word and perhaps in some ways a better one, for development workers.
The blog is a good summary and emphasises the fun of game playing for the actors and audience. I have found the use of games in training sessions very helpful. For community and church organisations the opportunity to think with their bodies as well as their minds can release creativity.
Our image of spirituality is perhaps the religious person sat in prayer. Yet most traditions emphasise the importance of how you sit. Spiritual exercises are often as much physical as they are mental. Too often we are in danger of thinking spiritual means leaving the body behind. Our bodies are in fact part of who we are and therefore of our spirituality. When we intellectualise our conversations, we remove the playfulness. The ability to play with ideas, is close to our ability to play games.