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Improvisation isn't just for comedians anymore

Spokane's School of Improv is teaching lawyers about interviewing and storytelling during a four-week course that began last Saturday.
Courtesy of Spokane School of Improv
Spokane's School of Improv is teaching lawyers about interviewing and story telling during a four-week course that began last Saturday.

When we think of improvisation, we sometimes think of comedy troupes taking a theme and running with it as they try to make audiences laugh.

But the skills used to make comedy can also be used for practical applications, such as presenting a case to a jury.

Last Saturday, the Spokane School of Improv began a four-week course aimed at helping lawyers become better storytellers. The event was held at the Blue Door Theater in the Garland District, where Frank Tano is the artistic director.

He says the class aims to provide attorneys with skills to "help their clients, either current, future clients, to get more of their story out, so that people can understand, a jury can understand. Or if it’s in a negotiation process, that adjuster can understand what is happening to the client.”

On Saturday, improv veterans taught the game "Yes/And," designed in part to help lawyers elicit information from their clients and develop strong stories that can be presented to juries.

Tano says next Saturday’s class will teach attorneys how to tell those stories in more engaging ways.

“How to use language to be really descriptive in conveying a better mental picture, to construct that theater of the mind image," he said.

Parts three and four are focused on learning about characters and their roles in stories and giving attorneys the chance to practice their new skills with each other.

Tano says lawyers who attend can earn up to eight continuing legal education credits if they attend all four two-hour courses.

He says the School of Improv may expand its classes to people in other vocations. It already offers introductory improvisational classes for adults, teenagers and younger children.

One of the Northwest's most seasoned reporters is returning to his SPR roots. Doug Nadvornick will be heard frequently on KPBX and KSFC reporting on local news.