The Power of Improv – How Does Improv Make You Feel?

One thing I return to again and again in Improv is how it makes me feel.  After class one night we all went over to House Wine and somehow got into talks about how it makes one another feel.  Hearing my classmates and teachers agree with everything that I’ve been feeling/felt brought me such great satisfaction.  The high I get from improv sometimes feels inexplicable, so I asked a few improvisers to help me out and tell me how it made them feel.

Let me just say the responses were everything I desired to hear and more, so much that I can’t help but share them to their entirety. If a long blog post is what it takes to share the absolute awesomeness of the power of impov, then so be it! If you haven’t felt the desire to do improv, you’ll be craving a taste by the end of this.

I asked my friends/classmates/teachers “How does Improv make you feel?”

Here are their amazing responses:

Kevin Miller (Merlin Works Teacher/Improv Extraordinare/Bear)
“When I’m having a good night onstage, improv makes me feel like the king of the world. When I’m having a bad night, it makes me feel like a complete and total phony. And when I’m teaching, improv makes me feel like it can save the world.”

Aspen Webster (My classmate/Friend/Shining Improv Star)
“Improv makes me so happy. God I’m just so happy when I’m doing it. It terrifies me and I love that I can feel nervous and then tear through it. It makes me feel like I can trust myself in a way I’ve never been able to before.

I was just reading an article where someone was talking about watching his daughter lose her natural happiness and delight as she hit puberty and grew older – primarily because she started doubting herself and worrying about image and the way she’s perceived in the world. And I started thinking about how that was something I went through as a kid, and how it’s only really with improv and the AIC that I’ve started to feel truly comfortable with myself and who I am, and just how much happier I am because of it.

I still worry. I still doubt myself at times and go through highs and lows, because that’s what it is to go through the process of creating things and becoming better. But the truth is improv makes me feel like me. It’s honesty and vulnerability and it’s feeling things and understanding others intuitively and listening to them. Improv is life – and I mean that as earnestly as humanly possible.

Improv may be make-believe, but there’s this amazing Neil Gaiman quote that I’m constantly reminded of when I think about it:

‘Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.’

And I mean, isn’t that exactly what stories are? We tell these stories every day because they’re about people and our lives and the struggles we go through. And in the end maybe we don’t always win, but we’re always better. That’s it. That’s life. And the thing about improv is that, just like life, we go through those things together and that’s what makes it beautiful in the end.”

Jill Summar: (Merlin Works Teacher/Friend/Improv Singing Inspiration)
“Improv is so many things. When things are going well, improv is meditative. In a show where all the players are connected, people are safe and able to be vulnerable, and the moves and choices feel natural. The obvious is obvious. That state of improv is the state where you lose track of space and time, you lose yourself in the moment, where you’re truly present. There are very few times in life where this is achieved and improv is a wonderful vehicle to get there.

Improv makes me recognize my own creativity. Improv makes me question my own preconceptions, and it takes me to new and foreign places, simply by listening and following. Improv makes me feel present.  Improv, particularly singing improv, makes me feel like I have magical powers. And all by being relaxed, opening my mouth, and letting the obvious song pour out.  Improv makes me feel joy and connectedness. It makes me feel like I am psychically connected to my fellow players on stage. It makes me feel psychically connected to the audience when you’re really playing off each other’s energy.  Improv makes me feel trusting. Trusting in myself, trusting in my scene partners, and trusting in a gracious audience.  Improv makes me feel great.  Improv can also make me feel tiny. It can make me feel like I know nothing. That in my relatively short period of study, I haven’t begun to chip away at this art – and I haven’t.  Improv makes me feel.  Yeah, I like that last one.”

Sara Reeves (Classmate/Bestest Friend/New to Improv, but never woulda thunk it)
“I feel like I’m going to crash and burn, but then I fly instead.”

There you have it. And now I leave with one thing to ponder on: How will/does improv make you feel?


**Many thanks to Kevin, Aspen, Jill & Sara**

About Ashlee Medlin

Ashlee is a graduate of Merlin Works, a Teaching Assistant and sometimes blogging intern.

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