After experiencing two hurricanes in 23 months – in an area of Florida that was to have been hurricane-free – I can say that some of us in St. Augustine are resilient. Some of us are just plain tired. And some of can be found engrossed in play.

Last year, besides making donations and spreading the word about resources through social media outlets, I also mucked out flooded houses in my neighborhood. While the work was necessary, I realized I wasn’t very good at it and I wondered how else I could be supporting the community. This time I turned to what I know how to do – play. That might seem like an odd thing to contribute after a natural disaster because technically we don’t “need” play. However, play helps combat stress, it helps us connect with others, and, it has been shown to increase resiliency. And that’s the key to surviving — and thriving — after a natural disaster hits.

Blowing off some steam during Teen Club’s Post-Irma Improv Playshop at Limelight Theatre

So we held our improv class (for grown-ups) three days after the storm and invited all levels of students. Those that were able to attend were thankful for the outlet as the days prior had been filled with nothing but stress and fear. One student told me it was the only time she wasn’t thinking about the flooding in her house. Two days later, we held an improv playshop for kids who had been out of school for 10 days. Several of them wanted to know why it had to end after “only” two hours. Seven days after that, we hosted Caffeinated Comedy – an improv show to benefit the United Way of St. John County’s Hurricane Irma Relief Fund. While the fundraiser was hugely successful as it raised $1,000 for hurricane victims, and brought much needed customers into City Bistro who had suffered a financial hit due to the storm, it brought something else into the space – laughter. The United Way representative got emotional not just about the fundraising dollars, but about the packed room of people sharing laughter, which was in very short supply during – and after – Hurricane Irma.

Meanwhile a photo of Cuban gentlemen playing dominoes in floodwater that reached halfway up their legs — with a makeshift wooden table balanced on their knees – went viral. Some criticized the men for being lazy while storm clean up was going on around them. Yet others saw this as the resilience of the Cuban spirit after Havana’s worst flooding in years if not decades. Turns out the gentlemen were taking turns playing dominoes while on hurricane clean up breaks. I’d call that a great stress buster.

What are your thoughts on play as a tool for resilience? I’d love to hear.

UPCOMING OPPORTUNITIES TO PLAY:

PLAYSHOP: Creative Play for Mindful LivingSaturday, September 30th
12 – 2:30 p.m. at Now and Zen Yoga + Pilates Studio
224 San Marco Ave.
St. Augustine, FL 32084
$20 advance/$25 door

Through the power of play, we’ll create space to be present and purposeful while also having fun. By playing unscripted games in this safe, intentional setting, we’ll leave conventional mindsets and thinking outside as we embrace the unknown – together. The playshop will focus on live-in-the-moment games that can be shared in social or work settings, as well as breathing, stretching, clapping, laughter, meditation and relaxation. Consider it one part mindful improv and one part laughter yoga – and all fun.

Auditions for the Improv Adventure
Tuesday, October 17th
6:30 – 8:30 p.m. at Limelight Theatre
11 Old Mission Ave, St Augustine, FL 32084

The Adventure Project is hosting supplemental auditions for The Improv Adventure – an improv troupe based out of St. Augustine. The troupe – which appears in various venues around town – performs a combination of long and short form improv and explores the question:

“Where will improv take you?”

To secure a 20-minute audition slot, please send an email with the subject line “AUDITION” to amy@adventure-project.com.

PLAYSHOP: Yes Mingler 4
Wednesday, October 18th
5:30 p.m. at City Bistro Tea House & Coffee Company
1280 N Ponce De Leon Blvd, St Augustine, FL 32084
$5 advance/$8 door

It’s time for our fall Yes Mingler! What is a Yes Mingler anyway?? It’s this:

intentional networking + community party + digital detox (no electronic devices) + facilitated games and mingling

SHOW: Comedy for the Corazon
Friday, October 27th
8 p.m. at the Corazon Cinema & Cafe
36 Granada Street
St. Augustine, FL 32084
$8 advance/$10 door

Join us for an evening of spooky themed unscripted comedy to benefit the Corazon Cinema and Cafe — St. Augustine’s local historic cinema dating back more than 125 years.

Classes:

Level 1 – Improv Basics
Wednesdays, November 1st – December 13th
(No class on November 22nd)
6:30 – 9 p.m. at Limelight Theatre
11 Old Mission Ave, St Augustine, FL 32084

Throughout this introduction course, students will explore the basic concepts of improvisation in a warm, safe and supportive environment. The class is designed to build self-confidence and explore creativity using the fundamentals of improvisation.

Level 2 – Advanced Improv
(Prerequisite: Level 1)
Tuesdays, November 7th – December 12th
6:30 – 9 p.m. at Limelight Theatre

CLASS: Level 5 – Lowdown on Long Form
(Prerequisite: Levels 1, 2, 3 & 4)
Mondays, October 30th – December 18th
6:30 – 9 p.m. at Limelight Theatre

Play Retreat:

1st Inaugural Playscape Retreat
Sunday, March 4 – Saturday, March 10, 2018
Casa Andalucia
San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

A small group “playcation” for you to disconnect from devices, dive into an adventure and connect to other like-minded people while in the comfort of an eco-retreat designed to bring you back to the natural environment — and yourself.

Please visit The Adventure Project’s calendar and the play retreat pages for more details on all events as well as tickets and registration information.