This project started with one class at Stanford and became a much bigger project with a followup year of improv classes with Bay Area TheaterWorks and Stanford Continuing Education.
My goal at the beginner was to challenge myself to do something very uncomfortable that could make be a better person. The storytelling class through Stanford’s Continuing Education program was the perfect choice. The first few weeks of class were about building trust with the faculty and classmates, and learning though short lectures and many exercises to tell real stories from our lives to this small group of people. During the final four weeks we practiced doing one talk that would be performed to a larger audience the evening of the final class. To meet my own challenge, I chose to tell a very personal and difficult story about my step-father’s suicide. Uncomfortable challenge met head on. This experience was life changing for me; I’ve spent a lot my career(s) standing in front of a room talking to groups of people, but I’ve never dug this deep and spoken this personally before to even close friends. I cried every time I practiced the talk, and I cried on stage when I delivered it.
After that experience I’ve been able to communicate about my experiences much more openly. I don’t cry though.
I followed up that class with three improv classes through BATs.
All our CMU ETC students take improv their first semester, and for good reason. The lessons about working with other people are invaluable. I also developed much more confidence for relaxing and having fun when presenting now. My classes are much more fun.