The Sanity of The Group Mind
“PICK A COLOR, SHAPE OR NUMBER AND YOU CREATE THE SHOW!!” With this simple invitation, Laughter for a Change begins all its “A Dose of Funny” improv shows at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA). Sick kids and their worried parents put aside their fears and concerns, and watch, laugh, and play along. Together, audiences and performers experience the healing benefits of shared laughter and collaborative creativity.
This shared creative aspect of improvisation can be viewed through the work of renowned neuroscientist Eric Kandel when he discusses the brain’s response to viewing modern abstract art: “Each of us is undergoing a different creative response… So that means the beholder, the viewer, is undergoing in his own brain, a creative act that parallels– in a very modest fashion– the creativity of the artist.” (my italics).
When applied to improvisation, Kandel’s observation points to this: the kids at our shows at CHLA, as they’re laughing and interacting, are actually experiencing their own creativity! We, the performers, are not only giving the gift of laughter, but are also, by connecting with our audience, empowering them with their own individual imaginative responses, which in turn produces a fun CREATIVY LOOP!
Kandel’s observations on the brain science behind this shared creative interaction resonates with the visionary work of improvisational pioneer Del Close’s exploration of “Group Mind.” Del believed that through the improvisational process, working together and playing off each other, we could not only make comedy and create art, but also generate a new model for interconnected consciousness. And now, neuroscience research is supporting Del’s intuition about “Group Mind.”
In response to the madness of the past several weeks, connecting outward from the individual to the global level, millions of impassioned people are spontaneously gathering together in large communities to march and protest. Fashioning their own banners and signs, protestors in vast numbers are responding creatively to challenges to democracy and to the health of our planet.
These collective activities are part of a massive, multi-dimensional creativity loop. We are witnessing and experiencing interconnected consciousness in play in real time in the real world. We are engaged in a global “improvisation” that has the potential and capacity to create a humanistic vision for the future. This powerful display of “Group Mind” shows the collective sanity of human beings. And that’s some… Good News!