So, as I promised, this past Sunday, my Level 1 Improv class at the PIT performed our class show. Our final class, in which we basically practiced the form of the show, seemed a little rough to me. I still feel like I’m struggling to be a relaxed, grounded performer. I was a little worried.
I shouldn’t have been. We rocked. Everyone in the class brought their “A” Game.
We got to the theater a bit early – 6 PM for a 7 PM show. We actually managed to do a fairly extensive rehearsal with our teacher beforehand, which I think really helped us get our heads into the game. Before the house opened, I took a moment to stand on the stage and just breathe in the theatrical air. Although I’ve done a few brief performances on that stage before now, it was the first time I ever got to just stand there and worship the space. It’s an important part of my theatrical ritual, and something I’ve missed desperately.
So, as I said, everything just seemed to fall into place with everyone. Sure, there were a few clunkers for scenes. I promised myself that I’d play more grounded, real characters. When I forgot that, it was rough (although I was often saved by my scene partners). But when I kept it in mind, I felt like we did some really good stuff up there.
Don, Alex, and Tesse were there to cheer me on, and they joined me for a few drinks at Mustang Sally’s afterwards. It was especially gratifying that Alex was there, since it was her Level 1 UCB class show that inspired me to get back into this crazy business we call improv in the first place.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our wonderful teacher, Tom Ridgely. He’s knowledgeable to be sure, but a lot of people are knowledgeable. More importantly, he’s endlessly patient and encouraging. Where my own experience might drive me (back in my improv directing days) to issue an authoritative rebuke, Tom steers the ship so gently that you can barely feel it, until 8 weeks later you find the ship has mysteriously taken the proper course. He took a motley crew of improvisers with experience ranging from extensive to none at all and made us, for one night, perform as a team.
Right now, I’m in a bit of limbo. I will definitely take a Level 2 class, but right now the only one available is during Paula’s Icky House Club rehearsals. I’m wary of going up for the open jams, just because it’s very hard to get into a groove with people that you don’t know at all. No matter what happens, though, I will continue this journey. It felt so good to be welcomed back in the congregation to worship at the altar of the theater.