I believe that status games still have a role to play in applied improvisation, as long as we remove the concept of "status" from them.
Status is an outdated idea that belongs to tired old hierarchies. They mostly still exist in Applied Improvisation work because facilitators like running the activities, and a lot of client organisations are keen to maintain the collusion that tired old hierarchies bring.
Status has even come to mean something quite different to Generation Y employees, more associated with the status message on Facebook, Yammer, and even Ning!
In stage work, I think we've also grown up, and status is a bit of a tired concept. Generation Y also doesn't like the simplistic and often parental feel of status in acting. This is a generation much more immersed in collaboration, co-design and emergence. There's more devised work than ever, and the director isn't a director by dint of having status, but by dint of having a specific leadership role in the collaboration process. Even the concept of servant leadership isn't about status - it is about impulse and contribution.
Status rarely makes its way back into organisations these days. It might be fun in the workshop situation but I have often experienced it and heard comments from workshop participants that many status games feel anachronistic, outdated and something akin to a Victorian Parlour game. Many organisations seeking to be more improvisational are looking to overcome traditional status and even remove it as an organisational norm. "Single status" is a rather old and primitive form of this. Status is theatre practice is more established in a creative sense. Who has status? - is often a question that guides a director and also writers and dramaturgs. Status in human interpersonal dynamics is a useful way of exploring those dynamics but I believe its use is now being overplayed, especially for emerging generations. Generation Y is largely anti-status, but Generation Z (yes, look them up!) are often powerfully 'a-status.'
Organisational effectiveness in the digital workplace is less about personal/human status (webmasters are on the way out, to be replaced by self-governance) and more about content status, about content interacting with content, about relationships of ideas. In the physical workplace, hierarchy still persists but is currently lost (especially further down the 'ladder'), in mixed metaphors. Mentors become confused with line managers (especially in call centres), and leaders are confused with "managers". Status will often be a natural emergent property of groups attempting to achieve something together, but it is now only one of a number of NEW dynamics that us more mature facilitators would do well to pay attention to.
I think we should ditch (or at least hugely downplay) status in our AI kitbag and play with other concepts that still allow many forms of status games to be adapted and enjoyed and used effectively.
Let's look at games that explore:
- freely defaulting to another's action and reaction
- serving others and leading others in order to allow a process to perform better
- the concept (emerging via social media and microblogging) that an idea is more important than the person stating it in a process of creating shared knowledge (content is more vital than personal source)
- holding back in order to let another give forth
- choosing and knowing when to withdraw ego and when to assert in order to a system to evolve or improve
- the concept, to be found in the work of Sanford Meisner, where reflection and mirroring guide pro-acting (this is also a kind of "service" that, in my view, transcends status)
I'd love a debate on this. I live in hope...