First and Last Days
I want to make a team. I'm saying it out loud and I'm saying it publicly. I want to make a team. If and when I don't get picked, I will not pretend I didn't want it. Those grapes are not sour. This fox wants them in his mouth. Luckily, I have already won. My pilgrimage to improv Mecca will be recorded as a win in the annals.
My level one class was taught by the artistic director of iO and co-creator of the Harold, Charna Halpern. The art form is young enough to be taught by the people who wrote the books. Having spent the majority of my life reading books that were written in the nineteenth century, I find the idea of a living author to be charmingly novel.
This deference, however, is stifling. Improv is psychotherapy on stage. Our problems off-stage seep into the work and I flooded the stage with mine. Fear and anxiety. That day I felt my heart beating out of my chest and my face go numb. Words were strangled in my throat.
She never saw me play my best.
Fast forward about a 160 hours of classes to the last day of the final level of the improvisation program. I sat waiting to be called on stage for the last time. Three days from now we'd be performing on the iO stage. We'd been Full Metal Jacket-ed and come out whole on the other side. My heart beating even and steady like a patient metronome. I had been in the shit and had acquired the thousand yard stare. Leaping into the fire so many times, my body refused to be afraid. Sitting in my chair with fifteen minutes left, I graduated. With no fanfare, pronouncements, or diploma, I had graduated.
To all the new Harold team members, if I'm not taking a bow with you on stage, I'll be cheering for you from the audience. What started as adult make-believe classes turned into therapy. I'm better for the time I've spent with you. I moved here to become a better improvisor and did. It was a W.
Labels: Love Letters