I was always a little bit of a quirky kid. I read a lot (I always got wayyyyy more stars on the school reading board than my peers, which I have my (bookworm) aunt Jenny to thank for – she was a big reading influence in my life), couldn’t get enough goofy camp songs and skits, constantly dreamed about seeing the world and loved writing and telling stories. I was always involved in sports and after school activities, had a good number of friends and was decently well-liked, but there was always a part of me that felt like I didn’t quite belong. Like I was (mentally) living in a different universe. Actually, I still feel like that as an adult, but that’s beside the point. When I got to high school, I found my niche in the theater community. Finally, I found others who, instead of (or maybe in addition to) enjoying wearing sports uniforms to school, liked dressing up in kooky costumes and making believe. My favorite part of high school was drama club. I felt like myself there. I became close to my best friend, fell in love and made countless memories with an amazing group of people. I truly believe my experiences with the club at least partially gave me the confidence to become the adult that I was meant to be. And you know, as an adult I think I appreciate quirky people above all others.
Through college and adulthood, theater was always in the back of my mind, but it was something I wasn’t sure I could go back to. It’s been so many years since I’ve acted in a play, and as an adult, the unfortunate reality is that you don’t have several nights a week to commit to rehearsals and weekends to commit to performing. Or maybe you do, but only if you’re willing to give up other aspects of your life. I have too many interests and haven’t found that time or the confidence to try it again.
Just over a year ago, my close friend Kelsey started taking an improv class. She fell in love with it, and has kept with it. Now, she’s truly a member of the DC improv community and is on two improv teams. She’s made a ton of friends and I’ve watched her level of happiness increase tenfold. I’ve been intrigued since she started, but wasn’t sure it was for me. Acting out lines that you’ve memorized is so much less intimidating than having to come up with characters and lines on the spot. Plus the classes are expensive and time consuming. But, there are always plenty of excuses not to live the life you want. And in my grand search for happiness post-Rich, I decided to give it a try. And guess what – I’m hooked!
I started my level one class in January and just finished up this week, concluding with a showcase where my class performed on stage in front of an audience. What a rush! I was terribly nervous walking into the showcase, but it went really well. People told us we were super funny, and our amazing teachers, Katie and Eva, were there in the front row supporting us and leading the laughter. I was so proud of myself and my whole team. It was something new for all of us, and we got out there and did it. One of the main points we learned in our class was that you support your teammates and never leave them hanging, and I really felt like we did that. I never felt like I was alone on stage with the audience – I could count on my team if I got stuck, and my focus during the show was on them rather than the people watching us. I was just up there on stage with my friends, doing what we always do.
A few people have asked me what we did in our improv class. I won’t go into specific activities, but it was a progression through the basics of improv over the course of eight weeks and included a lot of fun, games and awkwardness. In the beginning, we did a lot of ice-breaker or camp-type games to get comfortable with each other, then slowly progressed to scenes. If you’ve never watched improv before, a “scene” involves at least two people interacting together, making up characters on the spot. You work to establish a relationship between you and to answer the question of who, what and where and create a sort of story out of it.
I highly recommend if you’d like to know more, you check out a class or even just a performance. During the first couple of classes, I was sort of terrified. I was not comfortable in my skin or with my abilities. But I got to know my class more and more and by the end, it became nothing but fun and instead of looking toward Monday nights with hesitation, I did so with enthusiasm and anticipation. I never laugh in my daily life as much as I do on Monday nights during class. It was actually sort of shocking to realize that I definitely haven’t been getting enough laughter in my life. It’s one of the big reasons I’ve decided to move on to level two and to stick with it, even though I’m sure level two will have its own set of challenges. It’s good for my happiness level and my self-confidence. I’m learning, meeting new people and participating in hilarity. It’s a great combination and I would highly recommend it!