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Improv: From Fun to Freeze and Everything in-between!

Let me introduce you to my recent Improv experience which has prompted me to explore deeper through the lens of vulnerability and my new internal awareness. I enrolled in an Improv class last month so I could get out of my comfort zone and invoke new ways of creativity. Well, it turns out what I received was more than what I signed up for; allow me to share more.

Improv is what?

Each week my class of 12 learned impromptu ways of thinking, being present, listening closely, and building connection with new people. There is no script, no handouts, and no workbooks; we don't take notes and are fully engaged. You go with whatever comes up on the spot. 0ur weekly 2-hour classes continue to build on what we learned the previous week and move forward quickly. My class consists of actors, executive coaches, restaurant staff, and students. This is an interesting dynamic particularly because we're doing scenes together, building trust over zoom. We don't know each other’s timing, idiosyncrasies, or triggers. Its great while being a bit of a nerve-racking experience and I would NOT trade it for the world. Well, until my last class. I noticed that we had jumped into deeper territory-learning and practicing what's called “longform”. It consists of fast paced scenes where we introduce new characters, create scenes, cut away to the next group creating their scene, and bringing previous characters back while continuing the improvising. The teacher continues to throw out new words for new scenes, that don't make sense however using them to build upon a new scene - it's complicated I'll leave it at that. It feels like many people juggling (balls, bowling pins, sticks, and eggs etc.), joining, leaving, and rejoining with their different objects.

So, I was doing a scene with my classmate and we had a weird scenario - one of the things that's really important to develop in just six lines is who these characters are, (we don't know who the characters are because we haven't discussed it prior) you create them as you go along (thinking about the relationship, the environment, and what’s going on with these two characters in this during the scene) and so while we were creating the scene the teacher interrupts and gave some instruction on “who ARE these two characters and what is the issue between them”. The interruption caught me off guard, I froze, and could barely breathe. My eyes were darting around the zoom gallery. I saw my face, teacher, my scene partner, and all my classmates staring at me. I had no thoughts, no sounds, no movement. I looked around without moving my head and nothing was coming out of my mouth. After a few moments (felt like a disorienting hour) I gathered myself and remembered what the teacher said, and I moved on with the scene. After I got done with the last zoom class for level one, I realized I had all these raw emotions and energy left over. The fear, the “Oh my gosh I can't believe I did that”, negative self-talk, and confusion of what had just happened. My mind and body were making a big incident of this experience I wasn't sure how to process it. I couldn't sleep that night the next day I woke up still thinking about