By Claire Keenan –
Nepean High School is home to many clubs for practically any interest. One of the more energetic ones is the Improv Club. With 10 members, eight team members and two alternates, the improv team competes with other high schools in Ottawa with wit and on-the-spot thinking.
Improv involves having to create a scene, a character, or an emotion in a matter of seconds. The team has to pull together a funny and enjoyable scene the audience can relate to in practically no time at all. Every team member has to be present in the scene, whether as the main character, the narrator, or a set piece.
Leo Compton, a member of the Nepean team, describes what improv is like. “It’s a lot about trusting yourself, and trusting the people you’re with,” says Leo. “Working properly in a group is key.”
During scenes, teams do sometimes make mistakes. Plot lines disappear, names or certain characteristics are forgotten, but that’s just the fun of it. Being part of the improv team means you need to be ready to fail and make mistakes, because that will only make you better.
Anna Kollenberg, who has been on the team for three years, describes the bond shared by the team. “Every single year the improv team gets really close, just because of what we’re doing,” says Anna. “We’re sharing a lot and creating a lot together. There is a really strong bond between us, and being able to trust each other is easy now.”
As part of the team you can make new friends, get out of your comfort zone, and make people laugh. Though this may seem terrifying to some, it’s actually educational for others. “One skill I learned during improv was to follow my impulses,” says team member Zineb Nour. Leo agrees. “I learned how to be less self-conscious and to put myself out there,” he adds.
Improv teaches you real life skills you can use in university, during job interviews, or just for hanging out with friends. Anna says that the skill that she finds most useful is thinking on the spot, which may seem obvious, but it makes having even a simple conversation so much easier.
“Improv just makes [quick thinking] come a lot easier to me, so now it just comes naturally,” she says. “If someone says something, it’s really easy for me to play off it. For example, if someone says a joke, I can take it five steps further.”
Getting out of their comfort zones is something high school kids have to do, and joining an improv team or club is a great way to practice. It’s simple, and with a coach, actual advice can be given. Learning while also cracking jokes with friends doesn’t seem like learning, which is why improv is seen as being so great.
Improv Club may not seem as important as clubs that focus more on the academic side of things, but improv can teach skills that help make participants more confident and approachable. Becoming a better public speaker and being able to problem solve quickly are crucial life skills.
The Nepean Improv Team’s next event is the Canadian Improv Games’ Regional Tournament at the National Arts Centre (NAC). It will take place February 26 to March 1. Tickets will be available at the NAC.
Claire Keenan is a grade 12 student at Nepean High School.