When I started improvising I was lucky enough to be tapped by some friends and asked to ‘jam’ with them – this is when Improvisers get together and do exercises and have fun without any explicit lesson, agenda or leader.
This ultimately led to me being a part of The Impro Chimps (we called it Impro back then), and I am so lucky that I got the chance to be a part of it. There were lots of good people involved, and I learnt a lot of great lessons. I credit this experience with giving me a great foundation in working within an ensemble, and what can be achieved in Improv.
But there’s someone specific who I need to thank. April Seymore.
I always loved playing with April, she seemed very alive in her scenes and brought an energy to everything that was immutable. April was one of the few people who had strong opinions, and our conversations always felt like charting new territory. (I have a hankering for Pie Face, just thinking about it. Inside joke, sorry.)
But there was something else that April would do. And I hadn’t experienced this before (in improv, or my life), April would say when something offended her. April would say it without judgement, was happy to discuss it openly and then it was behind us. I’ll admit this happened to me at least once, and it started to become something we were able to do as a group. It was interesting.
I don’t know if I appreciated the gift April had handed us at the time. I hope I appreciated the trust and faith this showed in me. I’m sure it wasn’t always easy. But the lesson will forever be a part of me:
You can hurt people. You might not know that you are doing it, you might not even mean it, but you can. Kindness and empathy are the key to discovering who you are and what you believe in your work, and life.
Thank you, April. For your trust and for helping me get just a little bit closer (to me).