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.