I joined Grindstone Theatre‘s the 11 O’Clock Number (a completely improvised musical) two years ago on a whim. I had done a bit of improv in university but never really found a connection to it. When I got an email from the artistic director asking me to audition I wasn’t really sure what I was up against. At first I didn’t think I should audition because improv scared the pants off me, but Joel said “what do you have to lose” so I booked and audition and off I went. I remember when I saw my first show. I was amazed at how seamless and effortless the cast was able to deliver a story that was believable, emotional and hilarious all at the same time! I felt pretty inspired and so off I went to the audition thinking “how am I ever going to be able to be as good as these people”. Somehow I managed to get through the audition process and came out the other side a cast member!
After having been a part of this show for 2 seasons I have reflected a lot on how it has affected my life. I have noticed a big change in myself and a lot of it has to do with my work in improv. Here are 5 reasons why improv has helped me become a more confident, less stressed, and more open person.
- Listening : This has been such a big thing I have learned from improv that I have tried to implement more into my life. I know that a lot of times I am already thinking of a response before I have even finished listening to what someone else has to say. In improv it’s very important to listen to someones full offer before responding so that everyone can work together rather than compete. I know I still have a long way to go with this in my day to day life but I think it is such a great lesson of improv.
- Coming Up With Creative Solutions: Because the nature of improv is making everything up as you go this has really helped me become more confident in making decisions and finding solutions when it feels like there is nothing to work off of. In our shows we are constantly trying to find the thread that will tie everything up nicely and make everything work out as if it was intended all along. I have definitely noticed this has helped a lot when I am in a bind at work and need to think of a creative solution.
- Spontaneity: Jumping in to things and being spontaneous is one of the wonders of improv. So much of the comedy comes from these moments. It has taken me some time to really feel like my spontaneity can be worthy offers but now I am starting to not care as much and go for it anyway. I have had a lot more job opportunities and successes in my life since being more spontaneous. The trust that it will all somehow workout in the end has made be feel way more comfortable just jumping in!
- Teamwork: Improv is ALL about the team. You have to work together and say yes to allow the show to go anywhere. A lot of times I have felt very confident in my ideas and tried to push them forward without giving attention to others ideas. Figuring out how to effectively work as a team has helped so much! This goes along with listening but also understanding that other people’s ideas may work just as good and often better than yours is such an important thing to acknowledge. Finding the give and take of teamwork is such a fine balance but improv has really helped me fine tune this and think more as a team than an individual.
- Anxiety: I have had anxiety for a while now and I remember when I first joined the company my anxiety was through the roof. I would sit and watch and excercise for SO long because I was afraid of what I was going to do. I felt so much in my head all the time. One day I decided that from then on I was going to be one of the first people up for an exercise. At first this was terrifying and I failed A LOT. Eventually though I felt more and more comfortable and now 2 years later jumping in and not worrying about if I am going to be doing the exercise wrong is second nature. This has really helped outside of improv as well. I am more trusting of my abilities and will allow myself to be more vulnerable in situations.
Improv has been such a great life lesson for me! I have been lucky to work with some amazing improvisers and friends over the past two years. If you have a chance to take an improv class wherever you are I highly recommend it! The company I am apart of offers classes if you are in the Edmonton area.
Here are just a few of the friendly faces I get to work with on a regular basis!