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New And Improv-ed

Kat Lynch gathers her courage and goes to improv class.

By Kat Lynch

MY SIDES SPLIT as I watch fellow classmates dance out a story of love and betrayal playing the freeze and mirror game. Who knew that an impromptu amateur ballet could hold so much drama? It's a Tuesday night, and in the spirit of the upcoming Santa Cruz Improv Fest, I'm attending a night class at the Fun Institute. Generally a shy person with people I've just met, I am thrown right in alongside people who've been attending regularly. Luckily for me, instructors Clifford Henderson and Dixie Cox throw out such infectious, energetic vibes that I am powerless to resist.

One word at a time, our team builds the tale of a cat that ate her tail on a whim and asks a plumber for assistance. In another game, my mind goes blank as I try to think of something clever under the bright stage lights in front of fellow classmates. But the trick, I soon learn, is to blurt the first thing that comes to my head or the next most obvious choice. "It's taken me years to get where I am," I say. Suddenly, a vague phrase spoken in a suggestive voice adds a new layer to the story of a couple in a rowboat. Let's hope the woman's mother doesn't die from shock when she finds those pictures.

Only so many words start with the letter "e" without becoming too repetitive, I discover when playing a word restriction game. The first word in a line of dialogue must start with the same letter as the last letter in the previous word. Too bad I can't spell. "Everyone has to wear antennae and wings the first time they watch the Monarch butterflies arrive?" I ask in a whiny voice, playing with my imaginary accoutrements.

Clap! Game change: now use the last line of the previous pair's skit as your first. "But it's chartreuse!" I giggle as chartreuse paint becomes an integral part of dressing up dolls and bathroom graffiti at a local mall. Green glitter and chartreuse apparently do not mesh in an antique doll's hair. Nor does it belong on the filthy bathroom walls.

In the end, I don't think I feel as much magic as everyone else in the class, but there may be a glimmer of hope for this shy person yet: I got up there and tried.

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