The Girl Conducting the Choir – like no one is watching!

I was so glad that this video of a little girl from Kyrgyzstan went viral couple months ago. Not only because she is the cutest thing in the world with her blue dress and her pink cheeks, but she is showing us something that we all missed in our grown up world. The little girl, Lara, is conducting a choir with so much passion and freedom; a perfect example for creative expression.
So, what is creative expression, or creative experience? And how do we get there? Well, that is the question… Viola Spolin explains it through stepping into our intuition “My vision is a world of accessible intuition” she says and adds;

“The intuitive can only respond in immediacy – right now. It comes bearing its gifts in the moment of spontaneity, the moment when we are freed to relate and act, involving ourselves in the moving, changing world around us.”

And she adds…

“Through spontaneity we’re reformed into ourselves. It creates an explosion that for the moment frees us from handed-down frames of reference, memory choked with old facts and information and undigested theories and techniques of other people’s findings. Spontaneity is the moment of personal freedom when we are faced with a reality and see it, explore it and act accordingly. In this reality the bits and pieces of ourselves function as an organic whole. It is the time of discovery, of experiencing, of creative expression.”

Spolin improvisation is after creating those spontaneous moments over and over again in the acting training. But to me her work is so much more than just an acting technique, it almost teaches us how to be a human being again. It makes us go back to beginning, where we all used to feel like Lara; conduct the chorus, conduct our life like no one was watching!
If your train of thought keeps traveling like mine does and you say; “So what’s wrong with us, what happens when other people are watching?” You need to read “Approval/Disapproval Syndrome” in Spolin’s book “Improvisation For The Theater” 🙂
My thoughts are traveling even further back to the existentialist philosopher, Jean Paul Sartre who, in his play “No Exit” said; “L’Enfer, c’est les autres”;“Hell is other people”   Maybe it’s time to produce it in our theatrical matinees in Caffe Vivaldi!
Oh, but before getting more philosophical, here’s Lara conducting a chorus. She’s a delight… Enjoy!

A series of Spolin Improvisation classes will open in May. Let’s look for those moments of creative expression together!
More info:


Let's play!

My friends and students are already used to this; I’m always talking about my niece! Defne is almost two years old now,


and the pace of her learning amazes me! Every other day there’s a new song she’s singing in half gibberish half Turkish, or a new game, a new how-to… We skype couple times a week, and her mother feeds me with videos and photos, “feed” is the only correct term to describe it really, because I devour those images. And God bless Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger !
Anyway, my new year’s resolution is not to have a baby of my own, not yet. But the resolution is coming from Defne; her hunger to learn, discover and PLAY and have FUN! She starts the day at 7.30am, and the first thing she says is “Down”, she means let’s get out of the bed and start the day! From that moment on game playing starts, with her dolls, toys, with anything she finds, we paint and draw (her recent discovery is “Murals are cool”:), till she takes a nap, with her aunt’s words “She’s charging herself” . After the nap, the game is on!
This makes me think, I’m a thinker but you already know that, a human being in relatively “normal” conditions, spends her/his whole time “playing”, till the age of 10, even older.
"Where am I?" Defne
“Where am I?” Defne

At least 10 years spent with the hunger to discover and play. Then, usually the things we are “supposed to do” ruin all the fun and most of us become uninterested in learning something new.
Most of us lose the sense of game playing, or we need some alcohol to loosen up first before starting a fun evening… How can we lose something that is so deeply in our core since the day we’re born? Because that’s something built in our system; we are curious and playful creatures! Where does it hide?
I met with Spolin improvisation as an actor in 2007. I was lucky enough to go the acting school founded by Mike Nichols, George Morrison and Viola Spolin’s son Paul Sills.
2013:10 OYUN GUNU - 4
Spolin Workshop – Istanbul

I was amazed by this technique. It was simple and deep at the same time, and most definitely it was lots of fun! All of the classes were like parties in which we got to be silly, and free as if we were kids. I found this so important because most of my acting training till then was very “serious”. In 2009, I decided to bring this work to my home country and founded SPOLIN-IST. Now we have an expanding group of Spolin players, who constantly ask me when will be our next workshop:)
Spolin Books
Spolin Books

Viola Spolin, the grandmother of improvisation, touches us deep inside. She takes us to a place that’s so familiar to us that it is incredibly scary. Because it is scary to be your true self. But once you get there, you get addicted to it!
Here’s my new year’s resolution – finally!- I decided to increase the number of Theater Games addicts in New York City! A very affordable weekly workshop is gathering a diverse group of players. Join us, let’s go back to beginning!

Fall started with Spolin-ist / Spolin-ist'le sonbahar!

I spent my september and early October in Turkey teaching and playing Spolin games. Happy to be spreading the work of this genius woman, I had the chance to travel outside of Istanbul and play in İzmir. Here are some snapshots from SPOLIN-IST.
Eylül ve Ekim ayında Türkiye’deydim. Kurucusu olduğum SPOLIN-IST ile Spolin oyunları öğretip oynadım. Bu dahi kadının yarattığı tekniği yaymaktan memnun olarak, İzmir’e de gitme şansım oldu. İşte SPOLIN-IST’in sonbaharından kareler:

Improvisation for Breakthrough Business Results Workshop — next week!

A message from Martha Gelnaw Consulting about our next workshop . Join us on July 25th at Primary Stages, NYC.

Here are just some of the things people are saying – about the introductory Improvisation for Breakthrough Business Results session.

They feel:

More present, courageous, authentic, self-aware, ready, appreciative, considerate, tolerant, trusting, calmer, can have more harmonious interactions  – and less anxious.

Please join me for an introductory session on July 25.  Here are the details:
Improvisation for Breakthrough Business Results
“Prepare to be Unprepared”is what Amy Poehler (SNL, Second City, Parks and Recreation) said she learned to do as improviser.  We will explore how to stay in the moment and think on your feet while using the activities of improvisation. This is not “improv” sketch comedy. You do not have to be funny. Just show up and participate.
In your business tool kit you have experience, strategy, a solid education, and well-laid plans. Yet, sooner or later, you begin to realize that the act of management becomes a delicate balance that requires advanced improvisational skills.  This is where your experience and training may fall short.
With this work you can:

  • Think on your feet in fast paced or uncomfortable situations
  • Deal with uncertainty
  • Go deeper into relationships with clients, investors, colleagues, teams
  • Take risks more readily
  • Feel more confident in everyday or high pressure interactions
  • Find your authentic presence

Learn how in this 3-hour session.  
In this introductory session, you will do what improvisers do to prepare, perform, and succeed when the stakes are high.  We’ll take you through improvisation exercises and activities that help you tap in to your intuition and inner knowing.
Improvisation techniques get you thinking on your feet. This is a novel experience with new ways to have you be more successful in your business.  The work is fast-paced and hey, it’s not around a conference table!
This session and its activities are specifically tailored to those who are in the room.
Cost:                      $100 per participant; Pay by credit card through PayPal at
Date:                     Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Time:                    8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Location:             Primary Stages
307 West 307 West 38th Street, between 8th & 9th Avenues, 15th Floor
Studio A
Subways:  1, 2, 3 to Penn Station; A, C, E to Penn Station; N, R, W, 7 to Times Square
Buses:   M20, M34A, M11, M7, M34
R.S.V.P.                By email:
Martha GelnawCoach, Trainer, Consultant and Improviser
Ege Maltepe – Teacher, Director, Actor, Improviser, Playwright
Very best regards,
Martha Gelnaw Consulting