Yes, and flood waters by Evey McKellar

During the dry season in the Kalahari Desert, thousands of animals (including elephants, herds of buffalo, black cranes, lechwes, zebras, and more) all head to the Okavango Delta in search of  water. Five months prior, rain falls in Angola and travels a thousand miles to this delta. The water sweeps through the dusty, seemingly uninhabitable environment, creating a fertile  paradise as the animals arrive; the Okavango horizon becomes abundant with insects, birds,  lions, catfish, bullfrogs, flamingos, hippos and wildebeests. Almost overnight, the dry and arid  desert teems with life, made possible by this seasonal flood of water. Typically, inland delta  systems like this have an outlet to the sea, but the Okavango, due to the geology of the African  Rift Valley System, has resulted in the waters draining into the desert instead, creating this  paradise and abundance.    

In improv, we arrive to the empty stage, dry and barren of any props or display save two chairs.  The rest we bring with our collaborative work; we arrive without visual aid or backdrops to  guide the life in this place. We bring our ideas, our creativity, and our skill of working together;  we create in the midst of absence and space. As it does in the Okavango, life floods abundantly  onto the improv stage.    

When now iconic Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg first arrived at Harvard Law  School and later began her career as a lawyer and professor, the idea that women were equally  as capable and well-suited for jobs as men was unimaginable. The legal horizon of gender  equality was dry and arid, but RBG refused to acknowledge the ‘no’ she continued hearing.  Building her career as a fierce advocate for gender equality and champion against gender  discrimination laws, she has led the way for the seemingly impossible, nurturing water in what  was once a desert.    

We live in a world often overpowered with heartbreak. ‘No’ pours through our veins from  childhood, playground peers, or dismissive authority figures. Yet the improv stage can be  sprinkled with ‘yes, and’ and transformed into a space of imagination and possibility. Anything  can happen here! We arrive and create abundance from nothing, we emerge empowered and  enter the world with the vision to see other dry and barren spaces as teeming with potential.    

There may be no better celebration of abundance nurtured from nothingness than DCH’s  Birthaversary! What started as an idea then became stage space at Ozona’s. What began at Ozona’s has now flourished into an iconic Deep Ellum staple. The Dallas Comedy  House has become a home and haven, producing a community of comedians, improvisers,  writers, storytellers; all creative, empowering, imaginative people pouring life into the stage,  into themselves, and into their worlds around them.  

As DCH has been demonstrating for ten years, if we create space for imagination to flourish,  we’ll witness a flurry of life begin to grow. Where there is space for “yes, and,” there is space for  possibility and room for ideas. What may be desert now (if we wait with creative curiosity) may  soon have water and life flooding in with abundance.    

Horizons and stages

Release from our cages

Ideas that bring life to dry bones

 

In desert and dusty

Imaginations get rusty

Flood waters make way for new life

From tradition and ‘proper’

Don’t silence an offer

For something that never has been

“Yes and” will create it

Dream up and embrace it

Make room for the space that allows

Let water flow freely

Let these hearts breathe easy

Let creating break free from the ‘no’

Let justice flow down

Let our minds be unbound

From this stage we create possibility

Evey McKellar is a Level 5 Improv student, a writer and UMC clergy. She works for a nonprofit, lives in Dallas, and loves Cane Rosso.