Broken Families: Collectivism, Violence, Imagined Utopias and Improvisation (article in The Sampler)

‘Broken Families,’ The Sampler (screenshot)
© 2022 The Sampler

The Sampler has just published Broken Families: Collectivism, Violence, Imagined Utopias and Improvisation,’ my piece about the possibilities of improvisation—sometimes profound, radical and creative, sometimes regressive, hegemonic and abusive—about trust, consent and power, and how the denial of violence may itself be damaging to the project of building better communities and practices:

These are stories about failures. Failures of imagination, of peoples and groups, of how lofty goals can be deceptions. And those deceptions can be limiting, and affect violence. I want to move to a point where we can discuss, critically, both the utopian promises of the practices, processes, tribes and communities surrounding improvisation, and their destructive and violent potentials.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the above stories of improvisation-in-crisis are from events with self-professed lofty goals…. I think, in both cases, those of us involved took community, solidarity, resilience, trust and empathy for granted. It’s not just that the groundwork of trust and safety was never established for the group (although that’s part of it), but that we lazily subscribed to the dogma that the nature of improvisation would itself somehow save us. [Read the rest…]

Thanks to Laonikos Psimikakis-Chalkokondylis at The Sampler for asking me to write the piece. In writing this piece I’m indebted to exchanges and conversations with several improvisers. Big thanks, in particular, to Caroline Kraabel, Corey Mwamba, and Lauren Sarah Hayes.


03–19-24: update URL for article as the is being shuttered.