On Improv and What it Has Been to Me from Childhood-Present.

One of our Level Four students, Halyn, gave us permission to re-post this lovely blog entry.
You can find the original tumblr post here

So some of you may know that ive been taking improv for almost a year now, and if you dont, well i am. i love improv, and i always have since 7th grade when my dad took me to my first show at the hideout. my parents knew that i was sort of meant for improv, because every day i would just bust out into like fifty different characters, and i had these two friends in cheer, bethany and jenny, who would be crazy with me. but they were in high school, so i only ever saw them at cheer things. other than that, i would put on stupid shows for my dad. sometimes we would do voice-overs for spanish television or the 3 stooges when my dad got home from work late at night. he would also read books with me, and i would do all the voices, or vis-versa. my mom used to tell me to be something, like a lamb, and then would tell me things that i saw or wanted and i just acted out exactly what she said. i freaking loved that game, and would beg her to play it all the time. before i discovered improv i always felt a little out of place, no matter where i was. i was always this quirky awkward kid, and i couldnt help but stand out. a lot of my time as a kid i felt really alone. i just wanted to dive into these silly characters and be someone else, which is so cheesy but so true. i could escape where everything went exactly as i wanted it to.

its no real secret that i had a strange upbringing. my family wasnt normal, my living situations were never normal, i was never normal. i was always made fun of, but most of the time i never understood why. after elementary school, i started to really see that i was different, and i felt that it wasnt okay. seeing the other girls with their clean straight hair, and pretty clean clothes, in georgetown texas, with my crazy hair and clothes i painted on or hand sewed patches and things, it was a recipe for disaster. georgetowns measly little theater programs were no help either. i knew i was meant to perform, and id always try and go above and beyond, but that just made me stick out more. i was the weird kid who wanted to work on the plays and pick out costumes and paint sets and play games.

the games we played were improv games, which i didnt realize until i saw improv. i just thought they were theater games, and i wanted to play them all day every day. they were my favorite, because even in middle school, i knew that ‘the wizard of dillards’ was a waste of time. every theater class i would beg for the last few minutes of class to be games. in middle school my dad took me downtown to see a show. on the way he explained best he could what improv was, and why i would like it. that saturday night pretty much changed everything. as a young twelve year old, watching people do exactly what i loved to do but on a level i never thought was possible, was incredible. from that night on i went as much as possible, and after every show they would give the ‘thank you for coming to the hideout tonight, we hope you have enjoyed tonights show, if you like what you saw tonight we have shows and classes happening all the time here, just go to hideouttheatre.com for more info, thanks for coming out tonight’ speech, and everytime i wished i could go. but i was in cheerleading, and my family didnt have the time or money for that kind of thing. which is understandable, and im glad i waited until i was old enough for it to be my own thing anyway.

everything changed when i moved to leander. in leander i didnt stick out, because there was one thing here that there wasnt in georgetown: theatre kids. tons of them. techies, too. and they were all made of awesome. they became my best friends, and whatever time i had i was in that theatre room, on the stage, backstage, in theatre class, in the scene shop, whatever i could get my hands on. it was there that i grew as a true actress. i was put in shows and musicals and it was the most beautiful time in my life. all of my childhood dreams i threw away were coming true: i was performing, i was painting nonstop, i had amazing trustworthy friends who loved me as much as i loved them, we all loved the same music and movies and we were all family. my junior year i quit cheer, partly because of an awful back injury, and partly because i hated it for years and just couldnt take it anymore. it was wonderful to blend in for once. i still stuck out, but in a magnificent way. during this time i went on the hideout’s stage for the first time as an audience volunteer, and loved it. i felt so happy to be up there, and so in place. afterwards, little by little, i began meeting people like asaf, andy, kareem, marc, and noah. and little by little, they would remember me as ‘like the country but without a ‘d”, and i was so happy to find another outlet.

after i graduated, i instantly started up improv classes with andy. wednesdays became the best day of the week, and every other day was simply me waiting for wednesday. i was so excited and as i started my first horrifying year of college, i kept it up as best i could, and went to level three with all my people. in those classes i became so comfortable with myself, and failing wasnt scary because we had the failure bow, a bow you take when you feel awkward or you stumble or you get stuck. you bow, and proudly claim, ‘i fail!!’ and everybody claps wildly and cheers for you. these classes created such a safe place to perform and these people became my good friends. i felt so grateful to be received so warmly, and it was lovely to have people who were happy to be received too, because we were all going into this blind. i also just became more positive in regular life. i had a time in the middle where i was extremely sad, but improv pulled me out of it. i missed one class, but i was instantly back in. it helped me be happy, and know that there are other things and people out there where i can find happiness. but unfortunately, i had to stop because school proved to be much more time consuming and awful than i had anticipated, and i had also started up cheer again. i had no choice. during those first three levels people kept urging me to get on the forum and get more involved but i felt i was too inexperienced, and that i needed more time.

once my first year of college ended, and my last cheer season was completed, i knew what was missing had to be replaced, so i joined a level four class with all new people. im currently in that class, and the people are very nice and easy going. i just recently volunteered for the forty one hour improv marathon, and it was so wonderfully inspiring. the more i stayed, the more people i met, and the more i realized how incredible improv really was, especially to me. i met extraordinary people and learned about the classes they take or want to take. and just recently ive been getting more and more into it, but i need to let people know why its so important to me.

yes, i love to laugh and i would like to think that im a pretty positive person. but to me its more than just laughter and getting that out of the audience. its a legit art form. last night during class andy threw me and another classmate up on stage. he told us to be a daughter and the mother who had given her up for adoption. instantly i jumped into it, as i usually do, but what came out was much more than what i had expected. i wasnt mocking the situation, or being some crazy character, (not that i am all the time, but this scene was just very unique to me) i wasnt anything on purpose. i just was that person. and she followed right with me. she was my mother who left me as a child. and in the scene, i got to ask her all the questions i had wanted to ask her and it felt so real and so powerful that when andy stopped the scene to tell me that my oscar-winning speech needed to happen here i was almost shaken completely. i was so in that world that i didnt know what to do, so i assumed he meant for me to be silly. so i started out sort of normal but you know a little over the top, and when he asked for more i just went crazy and had a grand old time and got tons of laughter. after the scene he told us all that he wanted me to keep going with that character and well i wish i had, but anyway my point is that in that scene something different happened for me. it was improv theatre, not just improv comedy. and that is something worth caring about.

improv is one of my favorite art forms, and i love that i get so many opportunities to do it. i love that its all completely fresh from the mind and unedited (most of the time). i love watching people do it, and laughing and the insanely genius things that come out of their mouths. i love that its a positive and friendly environment, and that everyone just sort of seems to love everyone, because thats what i really love. when people come together to do amazing things. through improv i can be myself, and i can be comfortable. i dont have to worry about blending or not blending, because i am accepted. acceptance was never my goal, but it sure feels nice.

the improv community is full of wonderful people. people who dont judge, and dont really care if they are judged. they are extremely intelligent and commited to their art. they are hilarious and incredible actors, and to be apart of the austin improv collective is sort of a dream come true for me. thank you to all of you who have welcomed me and taught me things, im very excited to continue to grow and meet all of you.

“There is no Them. There are only facets of Us.” — John Green

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