Ask Local Genius Society: Q&A with Kayla Lane Freeman

Local Genius Society is back again this week at the Hideout Theatre’s Thursday Threefer.  Meet the men and women behind the Society.

This week:  Kayla Lane Freeman

Kayla Lane FreemanNot too long ago Kayla Lane Freeman hadn’t even seen improv.  Fast-forward a year and a half, and Freeman is building dreamscapes in the Hideout Theatre’s “Spirited,” time-traveling through the Institution Theater’s “The Professor: Improv Inspired By Dr. Who,” and winning the long-running improv competition, Maestro.  Aside from double majoring in RTF (Radio/Television/Film) and American Studies, the UT junior and improv wunderkind is playing the Hideout Theatre Thursday nights in December with her troupe Local Genius Society.  Here Freeman talks about the joy of doing improv and the warm feelings that come with wearing really cozy pajamas.

It wasn’t that long ago that you saw improv for the first time, right?

Kayla Lane Freeman: Yeah, it was the summer of 2010, I think.  I spent a little bit of time in New York interning for Sundance and I was living in Chelsea, so it was walking distance to UCB and I’d go see shows.  I had been a longtime fan of theater and comedy, and sort of knew about improv because I was a big fan of Steve Carrell and Tina Fey.  I didn’t necessarily think about doing improv until I came back to Austin.  I was just doing some acting classes and my roommate was taking an improv class at the Hideout.  She had a free ticket to go see a show and she knew I was into theater and we went and saw PGraph.  I had never seen improv in that capacity, like the improvised play kind of thing.  Seeing that there’s even farther that this kind of art form can reach made me really want to get started.

Was it seeing an improvised narrative in particular that made you interested in trying it yourself?

KLF: When I finally kind of felt inspired by improv was when I realized that it was so diverse and it was really an art form.  Then I felt compelled to try it, and I think I fell in love with it within the first couple weeks of Level One.

What was your first improv class like?  Do you remember it?

KLF: I was completely surprised because I think I expected something different.  I guess I expected it to feel more like a traditional acting class.  The early levels are so much more about creativity training and tapping into the subconscious and becoming okay with yourself.  Precisely because that wasn’t what I expected I would be getting out of it, that’s why I liked it so much.  I realized it wasn’t just learning some kind of party trick.  It wasn’t just learning a skill; it was kind of reprogramming the way that you think.

Is there something that you get out of improv that you feel like you can’t get anywhere else?  Like in other avenues of your life or other creative pursuits?

KLF: The way you say that, it makes it sound like it’s wrong, like, I have to go to my dealer, he’s the only one. And it kind of is that way, I guess.  [Improv is] cathartic, it’s playful; it just brings a lot of joy.  It’s collaborative.  You can’t be competitive if you want things to go well.  It’s something that needs to be a part of my life because it brings me peace and joy and a certain amount of stability and mental health.

What’s it usually like during the holidays at your house?

KLF: It’s pretty laid back, especially in the last couple of years.  My sister and I are adults now so we come home for a couple of days instead of the weeks upon weeks that used to be.  There’s just a lot of food and watching bad reality television on my dad’s giant TV.  It’s really low-key.

Are there any particular holidays that stick out in your memory?

KLF: The first couple of Christmases that I remember, from when I was five until I was about eight or so, in my house in Florida, I think those were the best.  That was still a time that I was incredibly captivated by Christmas.  I still very much felt that extreme sense of wonder and anticipation, and everything always seemed to be larger than life and a really big deal.

Is there something you look forward to each year at this time of year?

KLF: I have these amazing pajamas from Old Navy and they’re huge and flannel-y and warm and beautiful.  I look forward to cold weather so I can just cuddle up in those pajamas in a big blanket and read and think and write and not have any commitments to be anywhere or do anything.  That’s probably my favorite part of the holidays.

There’s the idea that “anything can happen” in improv – are there some things that you’re hoping might happen in these holiday Threefer shows?

KLF: I just hope that when people see our shows they think that they’re really funny, but they also think that they have a lot of heart and they can kind of recognize themselves and their experiences in our shows.  I think that’s what I want every time I do improv.

Local Genius Society headlines the Thursday Threefer at the Hideout Theatre December 8th at 8PM.

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