Back on Uneven Ground

By Sarah Wyatt I just had my Sketch Level 1 showcase last Thursday night and I could not be more pleased with it. All of my classmates absolutely killed. It was such an honor to see their characters and writing evolve over seven weeks and seeing an audience enjoy them as much as I have been was such a stellar feeling.

I went through all five levels of DCH’s improv training before I signed up for sketch class. Starting improv a year and a half ago was one of the scariest things I have ever done. Going on stage was terrifying enough without the added element of having no idea what the show was going to be or what I was going to say. I thought I was going to die before my level one showcase; but I didn’t and going through the next four levels, I met many challenges and learned so much about improve, performing, and life. I’ve been lucky enough to have plenty of opportunities to perform in the last year and a half. The nerves and terrifying prospect of being on stage started to fade. It was nice at first but I started to miss them and the challenge of being faced with something totally new and scary. I originally signed up for improv to take a sketch writing class so with a little encouragement from one Miss Amanda Austin, I decided to take the plunge.

Some of our level one writing students after they've completed their comedy monologues.

I immediately received the challenge I had been looking for. I had been taught for so long and so stringently to never bring any preconceived notions with me on stage. Switching from that to something that is 100% planned was a bit of a shock. We wrote so much the first class my hand hurt. I was pushed to write regularly about things I had never considered writing about and in formats I never had before. I had to be vulnerable in my writing and performances like I had not been since I was in classes. It was hard but gratifying. I do not know if I would have been able to do it if I had not been pushed by improv first. Because I had to regularly be vulnerable in improve, it was much easier to be vulnerable on paper. Improv also gave me performance experience so when I had to read my pieces out loud in class, the only thing I was anxious about was my writing, not me performing it. I know that much of what I wrote in the last eight weeks would not have been possible without having successfully completed the DCH improve training program first. Sketch Level 1 has been so amazing as a reminder that not only is it ok to fail, it is the only way you will ever get better at something you are passionate about. I am glad I got to enjoy the comfort zone for a while but it is nice to back on uneven ground.

Sarah Wyatt is graduate of the Improv Training Program at DCH and is now an instructor for Improv 1 & 2. She is a level 2 sketch writing student. You can see her perform every weekend at DCH.