Applied Improvisation for Mental Wellness
An initiative by Kaivalya Plays and Oddbird Theatre & Foundation
About the Project
Headspace is a mental wellness program by Kaivalya Plays and Oddbird Foundation that offers a safe space for participants to acknowledge and articulate their experience with mental health through an arts-based approach.
Improvisational theatre (aka improv) is a fun way of traveling on the journey to self-actualization and feeling comfortable in one's own skin. The project intends to create safe spaces for participants to undergo experiential self-directed learning and notice their thoughts, emotions, behaviour and capabilities in a non-stigmatised manner.
The program began in July 2019 with a 3-day long improv for mental wellness workshop hosted at the Oddbird Theatre & Foundation in New Delhi. Since then, the workshops and other initiatives under the program have been attended by 500+ participants across India, Spain, Germany, Colombia and others. In October 2019, the program expanded beyond improvisation through collaborations with mental health practitioners, bringing on-board guest facilitators like Anshuma Kshetrapal (Dramatherapist, Color of Grey Cells) to offer a wider range of options to the regular patrons of the program.
After the COVID-19 lockdown in India was announced, several of the program's most vulnerable patrons dealing with mental health issues became isolated, so it was imperative to find a way to continue offering our workshops. After learning extensively and expeditiously online with LCSW Lacy Alana (of Yes and Brain), Jim Ansaldo (Indiana University) Elana Fishbein (Magnet Theatre, NY), Kaivalya Plays began offering our mental health workshops through the Zoom platform on April 5th 2020, which have since completed 14 sessions with over 250 participants.
Kaivalya Plays is a Delh-based theatre group. Their artistic training is grounded in spontaneous improvisation, lying at the intersection of short-form improvisations (for performances and workshop) and applied improvisation (with a focus on mental healthcare, business, education, training). Their improv group CueLess improv was one Delhi's first improv teams and became the training ground for a generation of improv performers and heads of new teams. In late 2018, Kaivalya Plays created Unravel, an interactive theatre production produced under the Refunction theatre grant by the Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan. The play brings conversations about mental health to the fore, with the ensemble using improv theatre and audience suggestions to devise the final performance on the spot.
Oddbird Theatre & Foundation
OddBird Theatre & Foundation was started in July 2016 to help increase public engagement with the performing arts.
Founded by Akhil Wable and Shambhavi Singh, Oddbird quickly grew to become a vibrant community for artists across disciplines to create, cultivate and share their art with a tight-knit intimate community of audiences and patrons. It aims to make performing arts an accessible and interesting activity for audiences from diverse backgrounds.
Since July 2019, the Oddbird Theatre & Foundation has been the principal partner for Headspace, serving as both the physical and the online home for various initiatives under the project.
IN THE PRESS
Never miss an update.