What Teaching Online Improv has Taught Me
A Co-Facilitator's Perspective
Over the last year, I returned to improv, after I was first introduced to it in college, several years earlier. I met new people, made new friends, gained confidence, and enjoyed performing again, but all of that came to an abrupt halt, when the lockdown began and theaters closed. When the opportunity came along to teach online improv with The Unscripted Project, I welcomed the chance to continue an art form that I have really come to love and wanted to share that with students, especially those who might not otherwise get the chance to learn improv. Here are a few things I have noticed, learned and been inspired by over the last five weeks:
Teaching online improv builds my confidence and eases my anxiety, and I see that happening in my students. Like teaching artist, Paul, says, “I was painfully shy as a kid. It was through playing improv games on the stage, being supported by my peers, and supporting them in turn, that I found my voice and learned to live boldly in the world.” Teaching online improv has made me a more confident improviser and instructor. As the weeks have progressed, I have seen my students become more confident and comfortable in the classroom as their engagement grows and their enthusiasm to participate in games increases.
Teaching online improv makes me be more present and engaged. Being a successful improviser requires the performer to be present in the moment. As teaching artist, Tara, says, “I love performing to younger audiences - they make us better improvisers because we have to stay fully present and engaged.” As a model student, it is my job to embody full presence and engagement. When the students are bombarded with numerous distractions, whether it be their various electronic devices, or what is happening in their homes, it is important to have someone that can capture and maintain their attention.
Teaching online improv creates a safe space for me to use my voice, try out new ideas, and practice life skills. By creating a safety net to express ourselves, we learn a lot from each other, especially those that may have different viewpoints than us. Susan, another teaching artist, “hopes to challenge and empower young people to experience themselves and others as creative and collaborative players, critical thinkers, and agents of change in their lives and in the world around them”. Not only am I helping students practice skills that will help them in their own lives, I am exercising skills that I can take back into both my personal and professional relationships.
Teaching online improv is fun! Improv provides an outlet for me to have fun and be silly in stressful and uncertain times, such as these. As Katherine says, “improv is fun - and we all deserve to have fun.” After being cooped up at home for so many months, I look forward to the hour every week where I can connect with my fellow teaching artists and students.
About the Author
Katie Jenaway is a co-facilitator of The Unscripted Project’s classroom workshops and an improviser, writer, and social media marketer based in suburban Philadelphia. When she’s not studying and performing improv at the Philly Improv Theater, you can catch her watching the latest indie films.