Mollie’s improv forecast: Confidence guaranteed with a chance of funny

For my birthday one year, my grandparents gave me what they called “a year of comedy”. They were trying to usher me into some sort of activity to promote creativity. I started with BNW SU Summer Camps and eventually jumped onto the Teen Team. I have now been with the program for 6 years.

I think “saying yes”, and the improvised mindset, has guided me into trying new things and being more open to different experiences. In the past few years I have said “yes” to new friendships, opportunities, and even classes in school. I will graduate high school in a month, so this will be a huge help as I move and get involved on campus and in a new community during my first semester of college. I am just so fortunate because I think my experience with improv will make that hard transition a lot easier. I just think “saying yes” really promotes an open mind. It just makes so much room for new connections.

When thinking of the ways that improv has helped me, public speaking is an obvious one. I am better with class presentations, and as a language learner it has really helped me during the question portions of my Chinese finals. Improv has also raised my confidence in things like conflict resolution. It is just relaxing to know that I can articulate my thoughts and talk through situations. I am rarely nervous in those settings anymore.

For me, what comes naturally on stage is adaptability and an ability to roll with new situations. “Saying yes” to my scene partners, having high energy, and supporting my teammates.  On the flip side, what is difficult for me is character variety. I feel as though I do a nice job bringing a handful of characters into scenes, but I am constantly seeing my teammates play these wild characters that I would have never even imagined.

I think that the programs at the BNW SU are great for just helping people become more outgoing. It’s not just for kids that want to be funny. Matter of fact, you might not become funnier, but what will come first is more confidence. More willingness to try new things. More open mindedness. More positivity. It is easier to speak and communicate with others after improv. If you are feeling self-conscious about your ability to interact with others, I can’t recommend this experience enough.

In my six years with the BNW SU, one memory will always shine brightest in my mind. I was one of the younger people in the group at the time and we were doing a Close Quarters—a Close Quarters is a long form structure that all takes place in one location, with every player keeping the same character throughout. One of the older boys in the group played this character who was the King of the Sea World Bones. This character kept all the bones of deceased Sea World animals in this janitor closet, and he would just sit on top of all of them like a thrown. I know that it is a ridiculous memory, and it doesn’t even involve me, but every time I think about the great memories I have from this program it always comes back to the King of the Sea World Bones.

To describe the Youth and Teen Programs at the BNW SU in three points?

  • Inclusive- I have grown right alongside the SU. From the different teachers to the change in buildings, the organization has been so inclusive. There are many reasons why someone would take an improv class, and the SU has helped facilitate that interest and growth for each person.
  • Growth- Everyone at the SU is invested in each other. It is cool to see how I have grown, and how the other students that have been here with me have grown too. I feel like the organization and the teachers foster that growth, because when we all grow as individuals, we grow as a team. The result is better shows, and better relationships for all involved.
  • Real Life Applications- The program here at the BNW SU does a great job of promoting positivity, acceptance, and laughter. Laughter is universal. If you can make people laugh and feel comfortable here, you can take that anywhere.