Wellness for Laughter: Theatre Therapy at The Naples Players

Recent research shows that Improvisational Theatre games are a powerful intervention for anxiety, depression and becoming a more “authentic” self. There is a direct parallel between improv comedy exercises and practicing mindfulness. Improvisation is inherently mindful as it takes you out of your head and into the present moment through fun and interactive games. Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to the present moment with openness, curiosity, and a willingness to be with what is.

Craig Price, The Naples Players Community Engagement & Wellness Director works closely with licensed therapist Margot Escott, LCSW, who incorporates over 30 years of experience as a counselor, speaker, and teacher in her wellness classes that are designed to use humor, play, and improv to achieve well being. In addition to teaching and performing improv professionally, Margot has presented workshops and seminars on “Therapeutic Value of Humor and Play” on a national level and was a featured speaker at the Chicago “Yes, and” conference on Improvisation and Mental Health.

Improv Comedy came from the work of Viola Spolin, who developed acting exercises or “games” that unleashed creativity during the Great Depression. Her son, Paul Sills, formed the first Improvisational theatre in the United States and later went on to be the first director at Chicago’s Second City. Notable alumni from Second City include Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Chris Farley, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Bill Murray, Mike Myers, and Joan Rivers
among many others. TNP’s very own Craig Price, hailing from Second City in Chicago, spearheads the Improv for Wellness programs available at The Naples Players.

On Sunday, November 17th, 2019, The Naples Players invites the community to celebrate Namaste Day in Sugden Plaza and on the Baker Stage with Yoga on the Plaza from 9 -10am; Blue Zones TNP Ribbon Cutting Ceremony 10am; Laughter for Wellness Class 10am – 12pm; Complimentary Wellness Tea Tasting & Wellness Recipes with The Spice & Tea Exchange of Naples 10am – 2pm; Wellness for children, teens and adults with The Mind Spa along with
Naples’ top restaurant vendors featuring all their Wellness cuisine 10am – 2pm. Namaste Day is free and open to the public.

In addition to Wellness
Classes for mind/body balance, TNP offers accessible classes for students with Parkinson’s, Down syndrome, and Sensory Processing Disorder and welcomes all abilities and backgrounds. TNP welcomes all to come play in a space that is free of judgment or fear of failure, making it an ideal environment for people who struggle with anxiety
or physical impairment and is a great way for all ages and abilities to let go, laugh, and meet new friends. All Adult Education and Wellness Classes are listed on The Naples Players website and registration is available online (NaplesPlayers.org) or by phone (239) 434-7340.

The Inclusive Classes offered are:
Improv for Wellness – Improv for Wellness for adults is about playing games and having fun. It’s not about being funny or memorizing scripts. The improv games and laughter we share in this multi-week class, have tremendous therapeutic benefits. Come play in a space that is free of judgment or fear of failure, making it an ideal environment for people who struggle with anxiety or physical impairment. A great way for all ages and abilities to let go, laugh and meet fun friends. “I came in today feeling a bit blue, but after all this laughter I forgot what I was upset about!” – Improv for Wellness Student.

Improv for Wellness – Stress and worried thoughts can turn our middle and high school years into something
to endure instead of enjoy. In this fun-filled class, we play Improvisational Theatre games to help you learn better ways to cope with the stressors in your life. There is no pressure to act or be funny – you just have to like having fun. Improv games help you to gain confidence, improve communication and learn to be in the moment. In this 6 week course, you will learn Mindfulness exercises that help you learn to relax, play and follow our number one rule in Improv – have fun!

Improv for Parkinson’s – Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a movement disorder that affects up to 1 million people in the United States and doctors diagnose 60,000 new cases each year. Improvisational Theatre Games, based on the work of Viola Spolin, are being used clinically all over the world. Improv classes are being offered for stress management and coping with the challenges of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease. Neuroscience tells us that play, when combined with the trust-building of improv experiences, builds “pro-social brains that know how to interact with others in positive ways.” This is important for adults who are dealing with significant physical and emotional difficulties.

Acting and Improv for Students with Autism – Actors will learn teamwork, patience, sensory awareness and
communication through emotion oriented, confidence building theatre games. Classes will take place in a noise and
light sensitive theatre with a quiet waiting area for parents and students. The class is led by theatre professionals who have 20 years of dedicated experience creating fun, welcoming and safe classroom environments for all students. Acting & Improv for ASD and SPD is tailored to the specific needs and interests of each student. Participants will receive personal attention and are encouraged to demonstrate their ideas in their own unique way. A showcase will be presented on the last day of class. This class is generously underwritten by a grant from Suncoast Credit Union to significantly reduce tuition cost.

To register or for more details, contact the Director of Community Engagement & Wellness, Craig Price at
(239) 434-7340 ext. 103. Registration is available online (www.naplesplayers.org) or by phone. 15% off all classes is
offered for all Naples Players Members.


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