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Improv Science: UD Rubber Chickens

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Actor Alan Alda was one of the first to use improv as a foundation to help researchers learn science communication skills. Raquell Holmes, the founder and director of Improv Science states: “STEM professionals, with the help of improvscience, are recognizing that creating improvisational ensembles and collaborative communication is critical to their own growth and science. This ability to create new ways of talking and working with each other has paved the way to a new vision of what scientific culture can become.” “Improvisational theater, also known as “improv,” is a form of live theater in which performers build on one another’s spontaneous words and actions, creating the story line, characters, and dialogue on the spot. There are no “no’s” in improv; in fact, the phrase “Yes, and …” is the guiding principal governing the art form. Improv teaches a number of important lessons, including focused and active listening, confident and effective interpersonal communications skills, teamwork, leadership, and even crisis management,” according to Michael Hartwell, Johns Hopkins University “Improv Science” course instructor and education director of the Baltimore Improv Group. 

The Rubber Chicken Improv group is one of two improvisational theater groups at the University of Delaware. The group was founded over fifteen years ago and specializes in both long and short form improv (see their YouTube video: They will engage participants in a variety of investigations of the power of humor in the context of the brain sciences and some recent applications to helping patients with Parkinson’s disease (“Active Theater as a Complementary Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease Rehabilitation” in The Scientific World Journal; “Laughter is the best medicine: The Second City® improvisation as an intervention for Parkinson's disease” in Parkinsonism and Related Disorders; “An Empirical Study of Cognition and Theatrical Improvisation” from Georgia Tech; “Comedic Improv Therapy for the Treatment of Social Anxiety Disorder” in Journal of Creativity in Mental Health; “Embodied Cognition Through Improvisation Improves Memory for a Dramatic Monologue” in Discourse Processes; and, “Working without a net: improvisational theater and enhanced well-being” in Frontiers in Psychology. 

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  • Interdisciplinary Science Learning Laboratories
  • 221 Academy Street, Suite 402
  • University of Delaware
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • Phone: 302-831-6400
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