应用即兴06-A Brief Journey through AI History

Applying improvisation beyond the theatre to improve the lives of people as individuals, in communities, and in organizations is not new. Following is a very small sampling of the major AI movements and pioneers of the twentieth century. In 1921, Austrian psychiatrist Jacob L. Moreno, founder of psychodrama, created Das Stegreiftheater (Theatre of Spontaneity) which involved actors improvising daily newspaper articles in public (similar to the “Living Newspapers” produced by the Federal Theatre Project in the 1930s). It was a forum allowing for sociopolitical questions and personal issues of the actors to be examined and experienced (Frost and Yarrow 2007: 111). This early psychodramatic improvisational laboratory, so to speak, emerged from Moreno’s belief that spontaneity is the most basic human trait and from the premise that “acting is healthier than speaking” (Innes 1993: 50).


Influenced by J. von Nuemann and O. Morgenstern’s Theory of Games and Economic Behaviour (1944), two important studies arguing for “the importance of play and games in the development of the individual, in the growth of a child into maturity, and more broadly as a key to successful interaction and the formation of societies” were published: Johan Huizinga’s Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play Element in Culture (1955) and Roger Caillois’s Man, Play, and Games (1961) (Heddon and Milling 2006: 34). In Chicago in the 1920s, sociologist Neva L. Boyd was the first to apply games and play to group work and group experience as a means of social development at her Recreational Training School at Hull-House settlement house in Chicago.7


From 1924 to 1927, Viola Spolin (Paul Sills’s mother) trained under Boyd, and from 1938 to 1941, as teacher and drama supervisor for the Works Progress Administration Recreational Project, Spolin began developing her foundational theatre games (later used by Sills at Second City) to help immigrant and inner-city children unleash creative self-expression. The Theatre in Education (TIE) movement beginning in the mid-1960s saw theatre techniques, including improvisation, used as tools in the classroom. Notable postwar British TIE innovators such as Peter Slade, Brian Way, Dorothy Heathcote, and Richard Courtney applied and wrote about improvisatory methods encouraging creative play in childhood development.8


Augusto Boal, founder of Theatre of the Oppressed, working in his native Brazil in the 1950s and 1960s, developed a series of improvisational games and formats that would support individuals and groups seeking to understand and liberate themselves from oppressive social situations. Forum Theatre, one of Boal’s most popular formats, is a structure that allows groups to explore solutions to problems improvisationally, on their feet. First, actors present a scenario of oppression and then spectators intervene as “spect-actors” trying out tactics with the goal of bringing the scenario to a more ideal conclusion.