In group creativity, a group comes together to collaboratively create in real time. The creative inspiration emerges from the interaction and communication among the members, and makes the result more than the sum of its parts. The dynamic, moment-to-moment communication among jazz musicians and improvising actors is the primary topic of the book. Sawyer explores performers' close listening and sensitivity, the submerging of the ego to the group mind, and the ways that performers work together to create something better than and different from what one solitary individual could create alone. These explorations provide insight into all forms of group creativity and collaboration.
This book adds to our understanding of preschoolers' pretend play by examining it in the context of a theory of improvisational performance genres. This theory, derived from in-depth analyses of the implicit and explicit rules of theatrical improvisation, proves to generalize to pretend play as well. The two genres share several characteristics:
* There is no script; they are created in the moment.
* There are loose outlines of structure which guide the performance.
* They are collective; no one person decides what will happen.
Because group improvisational genres are collective and unscripted, improvisational creativity is a collective social process.
The pretend play literature states that this improvisational behavior is most prevalent during the same years that many other social and cognitive skills are developing. Children between the ages of 3 and 5 begin to develop representations of their own and others' mental states as well as learn to represent and construct narratives. Freudian psychologists and other personality theorists have identified these years as critical in the development of the personality. The author believes that if we can demonstrate that children's improvisational abilities develop during these years--and that their fantasy improvisations become more complex and creative--it might suggest that these social skills are linked to the child's developing ability to improvise with other creative performers.
Improvised Dialogues is thus positioned at the intersection of several fields, each of which includes a tradition of research on improvisation and conversation. In sociology, researchers such as conversation analysts have long studied how participants in interaction creatively produce an orderly dialogue. In folkloristics and linguistic anthropology, researchers have begun to emphasize the importance of creativity in performance. In psychology, contemporary creativity theory has begun to take account of interactional and social factors influencing creativity. All of these fields study collaborative, interactive craetivity; no single performer controls the group, but each performer is subtly influenced by the actions of the others.