Thursday, March 26, 2015

Birthday 2015 - Part 2: Contentment

In preparing for my Regret Crushing Birthday (see last week) I wrote a list of things I regretted never accompishing.  Problem was the list kept growing.  While adding:
  • Cartwheels
  • Bike without using hands

I realized I should be listing those things I no longer regret.  It's a short list.  Really, it's just one thing:
  • Never becoming a BATS Sunday Player

A few months after my divorce, I went to my brother's wedding (Hi Jon!).  During the reception, someone pointed out he met his wife (Hi Laura!) at an improvisational comedy class.  At least three people came up to me and said "Hey, you're a funny guy..."

Ah, to be newly single at a wedding.
Yeah, I'll just skip that bouquet toss.
I took improvisational comedy classes at BATS (Bay Area Theater Sports) in San Francisco.  It was... painful.  I can't act and many of the exercises seemed aimed at making the participants as uncomfortable as possible.  The aim of the Impro Movement is to break down those barriers that keep us from creativity, to tell our inner naysayers to shut the fuck up.

It was hard.  I was about to quit when my brother casually mentioned he'd been offered a part as a regular player in his local Imrpov group.

I don't have an adversarial relationship with my brother because I'm awesome and he lives near Seattle.  However, I signed up for more classes.  Now I had a goal to light the darkness of my spinsterhood.

I'll just follow that light.  What could possibly go wrong?
I took class after class, working my way up into more advanced scenework.  I expected, someday, to be invited into the select group of Sunday Players, the first step into becoming part of the regular players.  It never happened.

One day, I overheard them invite a student who'd never taken improv classes before to join the Sunday Players.  I was crushed.

Then I realized they were looking for something I would never give them.  They wanted an actor, someone who could subtly express emotions, someone who was interested in helping the group shine.  I wanted to be creative, to make the audience laugh.

And, yeah, to be as good at something as my brother.
It's tough being a younger brother.
"You know, there are other spaces where you can perform," one teacher said as I explained I was quitting.  She was right.  I found myself.  We all know the Shakespeare quote "All the world's a stage."  That's true, but you are a stage unto yourself.

Class after class, month after month improv taught me to break down the barriers in my own mind to open up to the creativity buried there.  Along the way, I met some of the best friends I've ever had (Hi Mike and Cindi!).  No, I never became a Sunday Player, but I did learn to write, teach, and design games.

So, no, I don't regret failing to become a Sunday Player.  The things I do regret?  I'll start on those next week.

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