Warrior Words: Improv is infectious

I have many times tried in college essays and other English assignments writing about this experience. It is never-endingly frustrating because no matter how hard I try to capture improvisation and the troupe I am a part of at Wilton High School on paper, the words seem overworked, lifeless, and contrived. These three adjectives express everything that improv is not. Improv creates an illusion of ease and comfort. It captures the thrilling magic of teamwork and creativity all in one. Improv is vigorous. If anything it drills the life back into each participant. Improv is spontaneous and natural, like osmosis between the roots of a plant and the soil. It is the resultant of a blank stage, some fanciful minds, and laughter.

As a small, wide-eyed freshman, I found myself overwhelmed and slightly afraid of the high school that surrounded me. In order to cope with this feeling of miniscuality, I signed up for public speaking and theater arts. It was my hope that these classes would force me to learn how to better present myself, and how to be more confident in my own skin. My theater arts class had students from the high school that spanned all ages and interests. Within this medley of students is where Ms. Delude, our inspiring and intelligent director, first introduced me to the art form called improvisation. Come that November of freshman year, I auditioned to be cast in the novel improv show at Wilton High School. In that wonderful space, the Little Theater, for the next few years, my outlook and perspective on how I treat others and how I tackle the world around me changed for the better.

Improv infects your soul and never leaves. I believe wholeheartedly that any member of Freeplay: A Night of Improv Comedy at Wilton High School can attest to this statement. This year will be my fourth and final year with this comedy troupe. Walking into the first day of rehearsal was, in a nutshell, weird. The room was no longer primarily filled with the faces of those who helped start the program four years ago. As the rehearsals wore on, I realized that it did not matter that some of these improvisers were new to me. What mattered was the tangible energy and excitement in the room. What mattered was the passion and hunger that each of these students has for improvisation. These fresh faces reminded me why I love these winter months so much. It reminded me of the joy of play that improv demands, of the terms of agreement that are the crux of improvisation, and of what it means to feel free of judgment and concern.

I believe for the most part that our unhappiness comes when we reject the essential tenets of improvisation in our day-to-day lives. As we close off our minds to spontaneous choices, we limit ourselves. When we treat mistakes as trash, we lose the essence of creativity. If we never allow ourselves to take safe risks, or to find comfort in being uncomfortable, we prevent ourselves from growing. I will always hold dear to my heart the “yes, and” mentality of improv, wherever I go.

Graduates will say what they will about Wilton High School, but I know that this ensemble is what I will remember most of all. Each scene is fleeting, but the friendships and memories I have made will last a lifetime. The symbol for Freeplay: A Night of Improv Comedy is a small, shining lightbulb because improvisation encourages creativity. It is this symbol of a small lightbulb that stands for an experience which has brightened my life for good.

Lynn Huffard is a senior at Wilton High School. She shares this column with four classmates.