My father always believed in lifelong learning. He was a pretty educated guy. He received his undergrad from Brooklyn College and his masters in English from NYU by the time he was 22. He was a voracious reader and always wanted to learn more. He loved theater and even when he was in a wheelchair, he participated in the theater group that was active in the condo complex for senior. He believed learning new things kept his mind fresh. I truly think learning how to use the internet added years to his life.
I also enjoy learning new things and most of them revolved around my business because it is such a big part of my life. And as important as Beyond Times Square is, I needed to learn something that took me outside of my comfort zone. It had to be something unrelated to work or my hobbies. It had to be something brand new. So about two months ago, I took my first improv class at the People’s Improve Theater. It was strange at first being with people I did not know trying to read each other. It was also somewhat intimidating because everyone in my class had acting experience and I have none, but at least we were all new to improv. The class of 12 students met every Thursday for three hours for eight weeks. Our instructor, the magnificent Pete LePage, guided us through new techniques, had us up all class doing improv exercises, and scenes (Yes And, Yes And, Yes And is drilled into your head). We did monologues for ideas, jumped into other people scenes, had to respond to questions without giving thought and had to react not analyze. I was so nervous and scared. I speak before groups of people for work but being on stage improvising was so new to me. But let me tell you, we nailed it. People laughed, we laughed, we had a ball. We were not perfect but you could see the new skills in use. It was exhilarating. Needless to say I start level 2 in September and look forward to taking my skills to the next level.
So keep learning and get outside your comfort zone. it will open a whole new world.
PS: Improv does not always translate great to video, but here is a short clip from our show.