“Unplugging”… What would our ancestors think!?

Yesterday my students and I were talking about people’s lack of social awareness because everyone is “plugged in” and not paying attention to their surroundings.

As an exercise, I took my Vanarts acting class(buffoonery physical course) to the Vancouver sea-bus station, a heritage edifice of beauty, to wander and observe the area, the people, the circumstances, the smells etc.. When we returned to the studio, each student played back, physically, what he or she spotted.

Vancouver Sea Bus Station


Everyone was very excited about their observations and how fun it was to physicalize all the ordinary people, and also the environment. They came up with such great representations of potential characters. It was an eye opener for them, and one that will feed their future work. Read more

To Be or Not To Be…. Happy?

Seems like we are constantly on a Happy Quest in our society these days. Is it just us, our time, or an ancient quest that has been passed down the ages? Do we have more time than the “old days” to consider our feelings and whether they feel good, or bad? Or, is life getting so complicated by the information age that we feel a dissatisfaction by all the things we are NOT doing, or that we should do? Or, is there too much woowoo stuff out there making some of us feel inadequate if we are not meditating and running a full time business, and exercising, and, and, and…. Read more

Too Quiet and Too Cold?

Sometimes when I work at home my productivity can be strained if I don’t have the radio on, or some sound in the background. And, sometimes when I find myself in a cafe doing some work, I’m surprised to see how much I accomplish. My focus seems stronger.

But when a cafe is cold, or my home office is chilly, I’ll suddenly discover my body tense and not relaxed. Hmm… probably not good for productivity either!

Turns out there are some reasons for the above occurrences.

Have a look at a recent “Vancouver Sun”. It might explain some things for you, and also help you to increase your comfort and focus in your working environment!

Ever wonder why it can be more pleasant to think or study around other people?

At a coffee shop, for instance?

It turns out that a moderate level of background noise enhances creativity better than a quiet room, says Juliet Zhu, an associate professor at the University of B.C.’s Sauder School of Business.

Zhu is co-chair of the 43rd annual Association for Consumer Research conference, billed as the largest consumer behaviour conference in the world.

More than 1,000 university professors and market researchers from around the world are converging on Vancouver today to attend this year’s event, which features more than 500 presentations at 15 concurrent sessions over four days and is open to the public at the Sheraton Wall Centre.

Background noise such as that found at a coffee shop (70 decibels) distracts people from “focusing too much on focal issues,” Zhu said. This enhances the ability to think creativity, she said, whereas if it’s quiet, it’s harder to think outside the box.

To Play or Not to Play…. that is the question?

Recently in Vancouver, Canada, a big controversy arose because of- quote from article: The Vancouver Sun:  “ping-pong, air hockey, foosball, archery, bocce, shuffleboard, Frisbee golf, volleyball, basketball and the Frisbee game Ultimate.”

And more:

“Other suggestions included playing games like Pictionary or Scattergories, learning to play the Chinese tile game mah-jong, going for a hay ride or a trail walk, or relaxing and chatting at a campfire.”

(Sounds like a lot of fun…. oops)

These actions took place, or were encouraged to take place during the Professional Development Days for the Eric Humber School of Vancouver. It did not go over well with B.C. Teachers’ Federation. And, according to the Vancouver Sun, was deemed “regrettable” by B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Susan Lambert.

When I read this article, my heart sank, and then I laughed at the absurdity of the seriousness of it. If the B.C. Teacher’s Federation had read Stuart Brown’s book, “Play- How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul“, they might have been praising the choices of Eric Humber School. I sure would have.

Indeed there are many studies that prove that “playing” is a healthy necessity for our survival, and a big boost for employees, revealed in much more productivity. Hmmm…. And, as Geoff Johnson from the Vancouver Sun pointed out in his article, “Play Day for Teachers Not Out of Place in Big Business World“,  the corporate or business sector are realizing the opportunities their companies have if they allow their employees to play, and ultimately get more innovated.

Check in with some of the companies who like to play and see how they’re doing. Google, Microsoft, Vancouver local 1-800-GotJunk embrace and reap the benefits.

“Production matters now, but creativity is the source of all growth.” “Play is the mother of invention.” – Stuart Brown, from his book “Play…”

Do you have opportunity for play in your work? Would love to hear about it!

Happy Participants in Buffoonery Workshops


Can humour also be considered art?

This is a great question, and I’m looking forward to your feedback. How do you view humour as in the “art” category? When I look at the Oscars, and how dramatic movies tend to bask in the limelight, I can’t help surmise that maybe humour isn’t high on the artistic list.

Buffoonery as an Art?

Such a shame.

When I witness the journeys my students (in my buffoonery workshops) undertake to attain the truth of their bouffon, and then mirror the world around them, including “their own human”, I believe they should receive the art stamp. Humour at it’s best usually makes us look inwardly and see a situation in a whole other light. Isn’t that art?

The following article is a fabulous door opener to this subject. What do you think? What are some significant humorous moments that have impacted your life, or day?

No one said art couldn’t be funny

By David Quantick

Despite having won every accolade going, Woody Allen still doesn’t see himself as anything special. “I consider myself a hugely lucky filmmaker,” he said at the Cannes Film Festival last week. “I’ve never considered myself an artist. I’ve aspired to be one, but I’ve never felt that I have the depth or substance or the gift to be an artist.”

It brought to mind the words of another genuine artist, Oscar Wilde, when he said that “art is useless.” But that was just him up to his old tricks. He wasn’t telling people that art has no practical application so much as annoying contemporaries who felt that art, like industry, empire and other attributes of healthy, virile Victorian culture, should be useful -rather than dubious, louche and merely entertaining, like Wilde and his work.

Read the rest of the article by David Quantick at The Vancouver Sun..

Humour is no laughing matter…

by Dave MacFadden, Vancouver Sun

There’s a line between what’s appropriate or inappropriate

A 2005 study out of Boston discovered that bonuses earned by senior executives are proportional to the amount of humour they use. It also found that exceptional execs used humour more than twice as much as average in the study interviews.

Is this really surprising? In my experience, maintaining a good sense of humour is crucial to good health -and so, by extension, to success in most of life’s endeavours, work included. It’s hard to imagine how tedious our day jobs would be if we couldn’t take ourselves lightly, or gently joke with coworkers to lighten the mood of the work environment.

Living Big 3

Playing at a Buffoonery Workshops session