Use Improv to Disrupt!

May’s Awesome Ottawa award goes to Hingman Leung, Adrienne Row - Smith, and Velvet Wells to support a series of experimental workshops exploring the use of improvisational theatre techniques to respond to racism.

“No matter how much training I take on anti-racism,” explains Hingman, “I always freeze up when someone says something to me that feels like a racial microaggression. After asking many friends for advice, I realized that this is a problem that a lot of people face! We know that we should say something – but how?”

“In comes improv! Applied improvisation is globally recognized,” says Hingman, “and used in corporations and therapeutic settings as an excellent way to gain communication skills in a supportive and positive environment. It helps people learn how to respond in the moment, even if not feeling quick-witted.”

“Our ‘Use Improv to Disrupt’ project,” she continues, “will be a series of workshops and resources that provide a new way for people who face microaggressions on a regular basis to practice responding through fun exercises and scenarios. We want to say ‘yes and’ to ourselves by disrupting difficult moments!”

Hingman, Adrienne, and Velvet plan to offer two versions of the workshop – one for Indigenous Peoples, Black Peoples, and Peoples of Colour (IBPOC) members, and another including their allies. In the longer term, they hope to expand the series to include other forms of oppression. To learn more, follow @thegrove613 on Instagram.

Hingman is a storyteller working in diversity and inclusion, Adrienne is a photographer and videographer, and Velvet is a theatre artist and facilitator. Hingman and Adrienne are also co-owners of The Grove Studio, a creative space in Hintonburg.

Funded by Ottawa (May 2024)