Tonight marks the final improv class I'm taking in this eight-week course at Bad Dog Theatre. I've been all over this Improv 101 class, soaking up the lessons from the talented Nigel Downer and learning from my fellow improv newbies. It'll be weird to have my Thursday nights devoid of this escapist workshop.
I write escapist because it truly is a break from the daily grind of what I do (as much as I love freelancing, arts education). In those two hours at Bad Dog, nothing matters but how I'm reacting to my colleagues on stage, how adept I am at the whole "yes, and?" thing. And it feeds a part of me that needs that kind of nourishment: extending my artistic reach beyond poetry, writing, etc to immerse myself in something totally new and refreshing.
I can see how improv will benefit me in my other pursuits, particularly hosting Toronto Poetry Slam shows and helping run panel discussions on my poetry podcast (more on that another time). Improv is teaching me to go big, express emotions I might not normally access, and find clear ways of saying things that help carry the scene forward. I admit, it was difficult at first; I had to play an intimidating character in one scene and that's an emotion I rarely tap into.
As much as some exercises were a stretch for me, I felt at home with my fellow improv'ers. These were Toronto men and women who just wanted to find comfort on stage, build public-speaking strength, find themselves in a way that isn't the ho-hum. And I can't wait to see where improv will take some of these people.
But as much as my blog title laments the end of these sessions, I don't think improv will just fade from my life. I intend to see where it can take me down the road, perhaps enrolling in the next level of improv classes in the summer or fall. And of course, I'll continue to be inspired by the excellent improv shows Toronto has to offer, at Bad Dog and Comedy Bar and elsewhere. This is jut the beginning.
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