Publisher: Elizabeth Hurd / Managing Director: Adrienne Proctor / Editor: Jillian Pritchard Ball

OKC Improv is Great, Unpredictable Fun!

The OKC Improv troupe “High Noon Sirens”.

Do you ever find yourself improvising your way through a situation? We all do it. I know I certainly do. Sometimes these skills are necessary- for job performance, for navigating through a social scenario, or just figuring out how the world works. It’s a useful survival skill for our daily lives. It can also be used as entertainment. And entertain it does. I recently took a night out to visit the quintessential Improv theatre in Oklahoma City. Located in the Plaza, OKC Improv is a welcoming environment. According to Improviser/Actor and troupe member Derek Miller, “Improv is about following the fun. It’s all predicated on agreement, gift giving, listening and making bold choices. It’s very positive stuff. With improv, we get to create something new and unique, not just in every show, but in every scene.”

The Improvisers on stage take notes, stories, and suggestions from the audience and form those details into an on-the spot scene. Nobody knows what they’re going to do or say until it’s happening, including the ones doing it. It can seem a bit anxiety inducing, but the environment is relaxed and conducive towards learning and enjoying the experience. Miller also adds, “You should expect a big welcome from everyone in our theatre. We never know what an audience will be like. We’ve had 4 people in attendance, and we’ve had 80-plus. Either way, the people on stage pour their souls out.”

A writer who critiques acting and performance should never be unwilling to do the task herself. This is what I keep in mind as I watch the improvisers on stage. They’re having fun, they’re confident, and they’re creative. Improv clearly creates a solid foundation for other endeavors, performance related or not.

According to OKC Improv Artistic Director Cristela Carrizales, “I have said time and time again that Improv changes lives. I have been in the game for 10 years now, and I see more joy in the world and can see people’s gifts and what they bring to a community, to their environment, to everything, with more acceptance and appreciation than I ever did pre-improv. I sincerely believe that everybody has gifts, but sometimes life doesn’t celebrate those gifts. Improv is great because it does celebrate a person’s unique and individual gifts and those gifts and that celebration can be used in every facet of life. Whether you are a leader at work, or taking care of a loved one with dementia and Alzheimer’s, a veteran with PTSD, a teacher in schools that don’t have enough funding for education, you can use the basic tenets of improv to change your life. And you can use those tenants to change the lives of people around you.”

Carrizales continues, “Our goal for OKC Improv is to keep ticket rates at an affordable level. It is incredibly important to us that people can come out and enjoy laughter at a reasonable cost. Next is our outreach program. We provide Improv workshops for free to caregivers of people with Dementia and Alzheimer’s. We are very close to beginning a veteran’s class and we also want to be able to send our teachers into the classroom for teachers who have seen program budgets cut but still want to provide an affordable art form to their students. We want to give back to Oklahoma City the way it has given to us. We have no shareholders. We are a non-profit that exists on ticket sales, classroom sales, and any donations that are given to us. Our goal is to bring joy, and every day we move towards that as best as we can.”

What a wonderful addition to our community! Improv is a lovely evening and great fun, even for those uptight theatre critics in the audience. You MAY see me on the stage one day. But until then I will enjoy being a welcome patron and supporting the Arts and Artists in Oklahoma City!

OKC Improv performances are every Friday and Saturday evening, with both a non-musical comedy performance at 7:30 and a musical improv performance at 9:30 p.m. For more information about tickets or signing up for classes, visit okcimprov.com

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