Ensemble!: Using the Power of Improv and Play to Forge Connections in a Lonely World (Paperback)
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Drawing on a combined expertise in improvisational theatre and psychiatry, author team Dan O'Connor and Dr. Jeff Katzman show readers how improv skills are the perfect antidote to loneliness and isolation.
I know what you're thinking: Hold on...improv? Like getting on a stage in front of an audience? What if that's not my thing?
Don't worry: this isn't a book about becoming an improv theater expert, and it's not really a book about performing. It's a book about loneliness--about our feelings of disconnection and isolation, ones that we may have been experiencing since long before the pandemic. More importantly, it's a book about becoming unlonely--by borrowing from the collaborative and creative tools of improv.
Authors of Life Unscripted Jeff Katzman, a professor of psychiatry at the University of New Mexico, and Dan O'Connor, multifaceted actor, writer, and director, have created a process they call Ensembling that helps us build an ensemble of relationships in our lives and more deeply enjoy the groups we already belong to. This is a process of becoming a little vulnerable with each other, and of embracing the moment in which we find ourselves. Drawing on concepts from narrative improvisational theatre and depth psychology, the authors present us with the skills we need to connect with each other more actively and meaningfully. To ensemble or not to ensemble--that is not a question. With the rise of loneliness and isolation in an increasingly virtually connected society, we must find ways to come together. We must ensemble!
About the Author
JEFF KATZMAN is a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of New Mexico, serves as Vice Chair and director of an international program on psychological resilience training, and maintains a private practice. He previously directed Behavioral Health Care services at the New Mexico VA Health Care System and programs for veterans with PTSD in Los Angeles. He holds multiple leadership roles in the American Academy of Dynamic Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis and is a board member of the Mentalizing Initiative in Los Angeles. Katzman has applied improvisational theatre with interdisciplinary hospital teams, psychiatric trainees, psychotherapists, and patients.
DAN O'CONNOR is a multifaceted actor, improviser, writer, and director working in television and stage around the world. He graduated from the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London and has trained with the American Conservatory Theater and Keith Johnstone since 1986. O'Connor is the founder and producing artistic director of Impro Theatre, and co-founded BATS Improv in San Francisco and LA Theatresports. For 30 years, he has trained writers, actors, and directors in narrative storytelling, and has taught corporate clients to use improvisation as a tool for adaptation and change.
"In this refreshing outing, Katzman, a professor of psychiatry at the University of New Mexico, and actor O’Connor (Life Unscripted) discuss how improv acting techniques can help people forge authentic and meaningful relationships. Those looking for a prompt to get out of their shell a bit should take a look."
"For me, improvisation . . . [has] been a way of life—a set of rules on which I’ve patterned my social interactions and my relationships. I am happy [for] a book that shows not just the funny part of this amazing craft, but the life-affirming aspects as well."
—WAYNE BRADY, actor, improviser, and star of Whose Line Is It Anyway?
"Wow, great book! Ensemble! is magic! A must-read for anybody who has been lonely and is looking for ways to connect."
—DAVID FEINBERG, head of Google Health
"I heartily endorse [this book] for all who are human and especially for those who have forgotten what it means to be human."
—GLEN O. GABBARD, MD, clinical professor of psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine
"In this time of increasing divide and feelings of apartness, Ensemble! is a gift, guiding us to reach toward others and helping us to authentically build and deepen our relationships."
— ROBIN KISSELL, MD, associate professor of psychiatry at UCLA and director of the Mentalizing
"Buy this book. Better yet, buy two and share it with someone in your ensembles."
— BARBARA TINT, PhD, professor of conflict resolution, president of the Applied Improvisation Network, and improviser
"Katzman and O’Connor have wonderfully laid out the convergence of improvisation and depth psychology in a way that is accessible and applicable to modern life."
—DAVID STEINBERG, comedian
"Brilliantly written, this book . . . will show you a path to happiness; it will change your life. It has already changed mine."
—GEORGE S. EVERLY, Jr., PhD, professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and
author of Stronger
"Ensemble! reminds me that I don’t have to suffer alone in uncertainty trying to ‘hold it all together’ when I can confidently step into my ensemble with those who’ve ‘got my back’ so WE can hold it all together!"
—JOHN-MICHAEL MAURY, actor, improvisor, and cocreator of UC San Diego School of Medicine's Medical Improv Elective
"What a life-giving cure for the loneliness blues!"
—TED DESMAISONS, author of Playful Mindfulness and cohost of the podcast Monster Baby
"Katzman and O'Connor show us . . . how to ensemble in ways that shape and complete us without losing ourselves as individuals. An empowering gift."
—BOB STOCKING, master instructor at EnlivenWork, Inc.
"These guys get to the heart of the matter with a sense of play and vulnerability that is supremely readable."
—PETER FELSMAN, PhD, MSW, postdoctoral associate at The Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stonybrook University