So as some of you may know I’ve been going through a lot lately… (I don’t know how to say this without sounding totally dramatic but without downplaying it so here goes…) I’ve been having the shittiest couple of weeks that I had in a really long time! (Not too dramatic, right?)
I’ve been pretty down about it and trying to stay busy and distracted but that’s all it has been; distractions. Distractions from sadness, distractions from wondering why, distractions from being pissed off at the universe.
The night after my grandmother’s funeral I was thinking about all the things people had said about her and the stories I had heard from my mom and uncles over that past week. Then I started thinking about how she lived her life and how I wanted to live mine. How I didn’t want to just think about the things I wanted to do and how I wanted to experience life more, so at my funeral or even on my death-bed there wasn’t the gloom of an unfinished life (my granny lived a very full life).
So I decided to log onto MeetUp.com and see what experiences and new people awaited me.
Now before you think, “Her grandmother passed away and she took that as a sign to try online dating…” that isn’t what MeetUp.com is about.
Meetup.com isn’t a dating site (Well not exclusively, although there are groups for singles looking to mingle), it is a social site where people can start groups to connect with people who share common interests like art, running, theatre or even writers.
So what group did I decide to meet up with? Improv!
That same night I signed up for a Improv class scheduled for the next day (Monday) at 10 p.m. in an area of San Antonio I was not familiar with.
To be honest I wasn’t super “in the know” about the San Antonio theatre and acting community. I’d grown up wanting to be an actress and had been very active in high school theatre but hadn’t made any efforts to really continue my love of performing after high school except the occasional karaoke solo.
I was super excited about it all day (Except for the fact that it was scheduled for 10:00p.m. on a week night and I try my best to be in bed by 11p.m.). I googled the location and to be totally honest was a little scared it looked like an older building in the middle of a “bad” area with no parking. I commented on the group, “What is the parking situation?”
The group creator commented, “There is parking under the bridge across the street.”
My first thought was, “Well this sounds sketchy as hell,” but I sucked it up and headed out around 9:30.
I found the place with little trouble thanks to my trusty Google Maps app.
When I walked into the small theatre there was 3 young people probably ranging in age from 18- 23 sitting around and it was very apparent they all knew each other.
Being the charismatic (and humble person) person I am, I just jumped into conversation. They told me about the theatre and program.
I observed and occasionally chimed in on their conversation as we waited for class to start and more regulars arrived.
By the time we walked into the theatre and started the class I already found myself yawning…that quickly passed.
The instructor Cody, young man in his twenties, had us start by getting into a circle to play a game to get our energy up (I apologize because everyone tends to have different names for improv games and I don’t remember them all).
The first game, I’ll call, Ball of Clay started with one person holding an invisible ball of clay molding it into something and then passing it to another person. This was probably the hardest for me, maybe because my creative juices weren’t fully flowing yet and I was thinking about how much I missed my friend Pillow. I was one of the last people to receive the clay, when I got it it was in the form of a video camera, I pretended to watch the playback before getting bored with it crushing up the clay forming a pair of shades sliding them on and chunking the peace sign like I was too cool for school.
The next game was a 2 player experience that required minor audience participation. 2 people volunteered and then the audience gave out a one word suggestion and they had to create a scene. The catch? No talking allowed. You had to do a scene with nothing but body language.
I was all for this. About the 3rd time Cody asked for volunteers I jumped up and so did a guy I hadn’t met.
Our word: Rollercoaster.
My scene partner did an amazing job he started the scene by pretending we were in line waiting our turn and watching the rollercoaster ride in front of us, my response was utter fear. I made faces of fear and nervousness as he got excited about every loop and turn as we got closer to the front of the line. By the time we got to the cart my character was a full-on mess. We locked our invisible safety bar, I turned to my scene partner and vomited on his lap (pretend of course), the audience burst into laughter. But the fun didn’t stop there, we then had to ride the ride as my (invisible) vomit smacked us in the face.
The next game was very similar to Body Language (I should of really gotten the names lol) except in the middle of the scene Cody would give us permission to talk and continue the scene. The second time I went I was once again paired with the same partner.
Our word: Auto shop
I took the lead in this scene and pretended to be driving a car then pulled into the garage manically pointing to the engine. He opened the hood and we both jumped back as if there was a fire coming from the invisible engine.
“Now you can talk.,” Cody instructed.
“That there’s a fire,” my partner exclaimed.
“Oh! I thought it was just the sun in my eyes.”
The scene evolved into me being a bit of an odd bird who didn’t realize her car was on fire while she was driving it. In true improv form Cody hopped into the scene as it got dry to add a new element.
It resulted with me on bended knee proposing to my mechanic.
I had an amazing time! Not just when I was performing but watching others perform and listing to Cody’s notes.
It didn’t end till 12 so I was very ready for bed by then but I will definitely go again (probably not weekly because of sleep).
It was nerve wrecking to go to a place where I was the new person and would have to create in front of others on the spot but it was just what I needed.
Even if you don’t do improv or the idea of speaking in public makes you want to hurl I recommend stepping out of your comfort zone logging onto Meetup.com, finding something new (or something old you haven’t done in a while) and try it.
What experience would you like to try on meetup.com?
Also here is the information for the Overtime Theatre if you are in the South Texas area. Along with improv classes (Free) they produce local and original plays for reasonable prices.