It’s not just me who has had their life changed by improv, many people have and we are going to hear their stories!
Today we hear from Steve an improviser who is part of London based team ABOB. Improv has taken Steve on a journey that has brought happiness, love and so much more …
How improv changed my life
Improv is a cult. We all know it. It has a set of beliefs and easy to recite mantras like ‘yes and’. There are strange rituals, or ‘warm ups’ as we call them. It can easily take over your life and drain away any free time or disposable income.
Most importantly, it attracts the strays of society and welcomes them into this eclectic community. This is where I come in, as a self confessed stray who has always felt like an outsider.
I found improv at the start of my recovery from depression, which is something that I have suffered with for a number of years. I had a gradual slide, becoming increasingly insular and my confidence and self esteem hit rock bottom. It had a debilitating effect on my life and everything around me seemed to feed into my negative feelings about myself and the existence that I had built.
The biggest realisation for me was how I had stripped away a lot of the things I enjoyed because of a consistent voice I had in my head putting me down. The main thing restricting me, was me. Once I accepted that, it allowed me to start taking steps to prove to myself that I could accomplish things and have a life that I could enjoy, rather than just endure.
I had a love of performance when I was younger that had deserted me when I’d started to lose belief in myself. So I decided that I would challenge myself to get back to doing something that I loved.
It started with playing music again and this helped to give me an anchor, something that I could come back to when I started to feel low. But the real step was trying improv, which I’d always thought looked like fun and knew I would find a huge challenge.
I did a day taster with Hoopla on a Saturday and even though I felt out of my depth for 99% of the time, I loved every second. There was this group of random strangers who were being playful, working together and enjoying each other’s company. I took confidence that I had actually tried it, enjoyed it and that I was occasionally funny too. It was a real revelation and I came away knowing that I wanted to do more.
I feel that improv let’s you see people at their best. They are listening intently, concentrating on the moment. It teaches you to support and accept what the other person gives you, to work as a team, as well as being fun and funny. It was positive for me to see those qualities in myself too. It helped me to create the building blocks that got my life back on track.
I signed up for course after course, having incredible fun with each. I met an increasing number of wonderful, creative and funny people who have helped to enrich my life, even finding love along the way. I found a group of people that accepted me and we became a team with an appropriately silly name, my fantastic ABOB colleagues, who have now been performing for 18 months all across London. Some of my favourite moments ever have been with these hilarious individuals and it’s been an absolute joy to become part of this London scene.
I don’t feel that I’m completely where I want to be in life quite yet. It’s a long term project and some days are definitely harder than others. But there is no doubt that improv has enriched my life in so many ways; helping me to rekindle my love and passion for the world around me.
I’m enjoying my place in a world of Dutch clapping, Armando’s and nights at the Miller. It’s great to be part of this weird community and fully indoctrinated into the cult of improv.