Do you like to act? Do you know what improv is? If you don’t, there’s a new club that will show you.
Improv club was formed by four teachers: Counseling Intern Tess Libersohn, Physics, and Astronomy teacher BJ Enzweiler, History teacher Daniel Symonds and Digital Video teacher Anna Walker Roberts.
Ms. Libersohn is the teacher who really wanted to make the club a reality.
“As soon as I knew I would be interning at SLA, I thought about ways I could connect with students outside of the counseling office. Improv and counseling go quite well together (both are about validating others and witnessing what emotions are present), so it made sense to start a club. I was thrilled to find out that other teachers (Mr. Symonds, Ms. Walker-Roberts, Mr. Enzweiler) have improv experience and wanted to join.” Ms. Liebersohn stated.
Improv is a type of comedic theatre, where the actors and the performance are not planned or scripted, everything is made up on the spot and it’s up to you and your fellow performers to keep the scene moving and entertaining.
Though most of the teachers and students see Ms. Libersohn as the leader of the club, Ms. Walker-Roberts named another teacher as the origin of the plan.
“Really this was Symonds’ idea and I just jumped on board and have helped out. I did have an improv team at another school I taught at and think it’s great for high schoolers!”
Though the club doesn’t know who or what exactly got the group to form and they do have a strong team.
The club’s participants vary week to week. , Sometimes there are only four people in a meeting and sometimes there are twelve people — but that’s what exciting about improv, everything that happens is a surprise.
When they meet on Tuesdays after school in the drama studio, they start with a few stretches. Then they immediately get into the games. The games differ for every meeting of the club but they usually focus on a new skill about improv and acting.
Ms. Libersohn talked about her favorite game and the benefit.
‘My favorite is one called Five Things, where each person is given five things to come up with, like “Name five things an angry lifeguard would say!” Then we move into longer exercises that practice specific skills, like agreement, setting descriptions, or building character relationships. For example, there are an exercise where two people inhabit characters who work together to come up with the story of how they met, all made up on the spot. There are a lot of smiles and laughs throughout the whole thing.”
The club gives off an energy that says “It’s okay to mess up, just have fun,” which is great when there are benchmarks or tests coming up. The teachers want this group to be a place where kids can not only learn new acting skills but be able to express themselves as well.
“You get to blow off some steam, everyone gets to have fun, find new friends and everyone is able to connect…it’s not what I thought it would be,” said Senior Keith Hodge. “When you’re in improv club you have to think on your feet and it’s really great that everyone is friendly and intelligent.”
The club’s teachers all have past improv or some sort of acting experience, no matter your level of acting experience, the club can help in teaching new and spontaneous skills.
“I think all students who are involved will grow as people by doing improv and it helps to de-stigmatize failure. People fail all the time in improv and do scenes that don’t work or aren’t funny. You learn to accept failure as part of the process. With improv, there are no time to pre-plan and when everything is happening on its feet it doesn’t all work out.” Ms. Walker Roberts stated.
“The idea of being able to do more than what’s expected, the opportunity for students to grow is the benefit to the community.” Mr. Enzweiler stated.
According to Mr. Symonds the club would like to perform sometime in the future. However they are undecided about who or when they will perform. The club hopes to continue for years to come.