Fictional Friends: the actor’s role in the Training Room

We wouldnt be able to engage, involve or immerse our clients in meaningful practice without our group of Associate Actors. Their creativity, flexibility and precision drives our ability to get to the heart of the learning and bring it to life for each delegate.

 Our actors are located across the globe and their range of experience as freelance creatives is extensive; stage, screen, comedy, improvisation… We take all of that and turn it into a rehearsal resource for our clients. What does that mean?  It means we encourage our Actors to leverage their skills in a special way when they work with us.

Creativity: to Engage rather than Entertain

An Actor’s job is to be believable as a character, to hold an audience’s attention. They must inhabit a role; thinking and making choices as a character in a way that gives life to the story. Improvising requires the ability to switch mind-sets, to respond with flair to different characters, places and events, building a story from instinct. These demands mean our Associates have strong creative muscles. They can generate believable characters, ideas, emotions, situation and story, with great flexibility. They can also assimilate themselves into our clients’ organisations in a way that feels truthful. However, our focus is to have them use this creativity to engage rather than simply to entertain.

A focus on entertainment can sometimes drive an actor to reach for the choice that will most interest their audience, that makes them laugh or intrigues them.   But our focus is to help our audience grow. What might be that the most interesting choice story-wise, isn’t necessarily the best one for the learning.

Character A needs to give Character B some feedback.  It doesn’t go well. B is angry, A is unclear.

An interesting choicehave B throw their coffee over A?  Burst into tears?  Reveal a dramatic personal motivation for some of their recent behaviour?

A choice that might build learninghave B articulate why this isn’t going well “it feels to me like you’re telling me to be a different person, I’ve been here 5 years doing a decent job and suddenly you’re saying I need to change, why? Then give A the chance to respond to those concerns…to navigate a path towards best practice.

Ultimately, we want to shift our audience from interested observers, to active participants. To do that in a useful way, we need a structure that is different to a regular performance.

Rehearsal mode v performance mode.

Bi-Jingo believe that to bring theory to life, both the actors and the delegates need to be able to inhabit it – try it on, walk around in it, test it out. Actors do this when they are in rehearsal – they explore the story by getting underneath what drives its structure; objectives, pivotal moments, the impact of certain behaviour. We transfer this approach to the training room where the Model or the Theory (rather than the story) becomes our structure for exploration. Rather than performing to the delegates, our focus is to provoke curiosity, then to have the delegates join the actors in the task of exploring the theory. We build our scripts, scenes and exercises with this in mind.

We immerse the delegates in a useful ‘reality’ that builds best practice.  Crucially, in our work, the delegates should never feel a need to ‘act’. They must respond as themselves, or the learning will not be transferrable to the workplace.  To facilitate this, our actors stay firmly in rehearsal mode.  They are fully inhabiting a character, shaping the challenge level in a way that draws the delegate into the scene, but they are also alert to the moments that need refining through feedback and repetition.  There is no pressure for ‘performance’ this is about exploring what works and why. No interaction will be the same because each delegate’s response will be different.

Our brand is founded on this concept of creative rehearsal. We cultivate it in our people, our design and our approach to our clients worldwide. We believe it is what sets us apart

 

 

Bi-Jingo Academy goes Virtual…

In 2014 we launched the Bi-Jingo Academy, endorsed by the ILM it is our investment in both our people and our industry.  We took our SMART approach to rehearsal and feedback and designed in-house sessions for our Associates that would strengthen the skills and competencies necessary to perform where it counts – out there, with our clients.

 

The Academy has since become a cornerstone of the Bi-Jingo brand, our chance to get creative with strategy, rehearsal and performance in-house, ensuring our people are the best they can be. All our Academy graduates tell us that the programme has made tangible difference to their working practice and the way they approach the work they do for us. They have also told us how much they value learning from each other. 

 

Collaboration fuels all our work here at Bi-Jingo, it is an essential ingredient for rehearsal.  Our work is also global – we have local teams in more than 20 countries. When we ran our second Academy in 2015 we had Associates travel from our teams in Hong Kong, Holland and India – participants spoke 9 languages between them.

 

But of course it isn’t possible for all of our people to travel 5000 miles to take part in an Academy session…so we needed to do what we do best…get creative.

 

Recent virtual training sessions with our clients had offered up the perfect platform in Adobe Connect. Slide-shows, white-boards, instant chat and (most importantly) faces share the screen – live. The software meant we could take our Academy online, enabling our actors to interact with content and with each other, wherever they are in the world.

 

On Monday 12th Sept, 12 Associates from 3 different time zones, clicked on the link that gave them access to our Virtual Academy.  They joined from Ireland, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, India, USA, Germany, Mexico, and the UK. Some were at home, some were at work, but they were all in our training ‘room’, sharing their thoughts, their challenges and their talent.

 

We are immensely excited by the possibilities that working in this way creates for us as a business – and keen to surmount the usual bandwidth challenges that come with working virtually (however frustrating they are at the time!). Next week our team of 12 will be working in virtual skills pods; virtual, collaborative and social learning.   Working in this way grows both skill and community. It strengthens our people and the Bi-Jingo brand worldwide. It also really engages our team, which we think is hugely important.

 

Thank you so much for a great session! Wow, I really loved that. It felt great to be connected to the broader Bi-Jingo community (so impressively huge) and to formally hear about expectations and professionalism… Thanks so much, again, and see you next week!! :)

Andrea Jones-Rooy – USA