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breaking the rules

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist” ~attributed to Pablo Picasso

I have been thinking a lot about what it means to break the rules. to look at what lives between the rules. what isn’t obvious. what can emerge from taking a different direction. giving yourself permission to take a risk and an unconventional approach to

achieving your goals and your dreams. in this contemplation it reminded me of my years of teaching devised theater and improv to children. because they were devising their own short performances, i would give them different prompts to help them think about structure, content, the tools of the stage etc. and how all of this could fit together to tell their story. one exercise i would do with them was called a composition. in a composition, i would give them 3 forms to incorporate which might be something like: a moment of stillness, a song and a moment where everyone is speaking in unison. I would also give them simple text and tell them that whatever they create needs to have a clear beginning, middle and end and to “yes, and” each other to see what emerges. those were the “rules.” I would then send them on their way with a 15 min. time limit. inevitably a child or 2 from every group would run up to me with a million questions: can we sit? can we use this desk? can we incorporate an instrument? can we, can we, can we? of course, the answer was always “yes,” to all of those things and it made me realize that we, as humans, are so conditioned to only hear the “rules” and fail to explore what lives between them. or to get really good at the "rules" so that what lives between can potentially be seen and emerge. as a person in this world, I certainly do my fair share of rule following but when I am able to step back, put on my unconventional thinking cap and start looking at what hasn’t been revealed yet, I have learned, so often, that this is where the magic lives.


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