'Darling! You were wonderful,' as the actress said to the manager. Not a saucy punchline but the latest line in training techniques. Using methods described as 'Stanislavsky meets Sir John Harvey-Jones', two companies, Actors Mean Business and More Fool Us, are using trade secrets of the theatre to train managers. The use of Who's Line Is It Anyway? style improvisation, they claim, allows people to free their flexible and creative sides. Paul Jackson of More Fool Us says: 'There is room for more fun and improvisation in work.' Nigel Haigh of Actors Mean Business agrees: 'If you allow people to be creative, they are going to be more efficient because they enjoy themselves.'
Both companies admit that the basic aims of their courses, ranging from presentation to the role of laughter in business, is to communicate actors' self-realisation and confidence.
Jackson says: 'A senior manager's performance needs to be of the same standard as an actor's or a stand-up comedian's. The worlds of theatre and business have more in common than you might think and they have things to learn from each other.'
Enlightened managers may be realising the benefits of a more 'creative' attitude. But what can Suits teach the Luvvies? Jackson explains: 'Actors can be precious. They could do with learning a bit of professionalism from business.'