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Meet the MLA ’24 Presenter of Leading and Serving in an Unscripted World

The Leading Together, Growing Together Symposium: Meet the Facilitator

In the weeks leading up to MLA ’24 in Portland, we’ll profile the experts leading each of the symposium sessions by sharing their answers to questions about themselves and their session. We continue the series with Leading and Serving in an Unscripted World: Leadership, Librarianship, and Improv led by Patrick Short.

Join Patrick for his session on Monday, May 20, 1:30-2:45 p.m., pacific time. To learn about all the Symposium sessions and their presenters, please see the Symposium Session Schedule.

What do you most enjoy about living in Portland? What Portland sites and experiences do you recommend to visitors?

Portland is accessible, made up of many neighborhoods, each with its own character, and there are many excellent green spaces and parks. The food scene is incredible. We especially love the food carts (the Prost pod is my favorite). The theater scene is vibrant, from community theater to improv to storefronts to Portland Center Stage. The music scene is excellent, with great venues like Revolution Hall and Alberta Abbey.

We are 90 minutes from the coasts and 75 minutes from Mt. Hood. A drive through the Columbia Gorge (maybe with some short hikes) is always worthwhile. Music Millennium is one of the last great record stores. Portland is a soccer town-- the Timbers and Thorns are great! There are many excellent microbreweries. Find some local coffee. Every town has local coffee shops, but in Portland, they are cultures.

What’s a fun or surprising fact about improv?

Improv skills and culture can be applied to almost anything. We are always discovering new connections.

How did you get started in improv and in leading improv sessions for businesses and other organizations?

I began using improv in grad school when I taught Creative Drama for Children at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dick Chudnow came to Madison, looking to expand his ComedySportz organization from its base in Milwaukee. It's a long story, and that's where it began. My first show with ComedySportz was in San Jose, CA, in 1987.

In 1989, in Santa Clara, CA, some Apple people pushed me up against a wall after a show and said they wanted to "think like [us]". We pulled out our performance training syllabus and taught them for six weeks, got paid, and then started announcing this program from the stage. Silicon Valley lapped it up. Since then, we've just kept learning and adapting and learning more.

 What’s the main thing you want participants to take away from your session?

 To let go of mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes. What happens NEXT is more interesting and far more important. 

It will also be fun. A lot of laughter.

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