When I was starting out as an actor in San Francisco I took all kinds of different acting classes and improv was a big part of that. My goal was to work in film and scripted theater, but I loved improv and I felt it gave me so much confidence and tools for other kinds of acting. Then I had an improv class that scared the crap out of me.
The atmosphere did not feel safe and supportive. I felt that I had to be “good” in order to impress the teacher, and if I did not do »good« it became a reflection of who I was as an improviser. I had a really tough time in this class and I started getting nervous before each session and I could feel my work suffering. Doubt set in, and my courage and playfulness started decreasing. My previous experiences with improv had been joyous and I felt like I had grown a lot, and now I was in my worst place as an improviser. It hurt.
These feelings are almost guaranteed to happen in some form throughout an acting career, and they are amazing growth opportunities, but I felt so vulnerable after this experience, that I stuck with scripted theater exclusively and put improv aside for the next few years.
After working with scripted theater for a few years I was itching for the freedom of improv so I went back. Luckily time had passed and the wounds of the past had healed and I quickly got back to a place where I felt confident and daring. I felt hungry to get on stage and get my butt in class and learn. My regular teacher missed a class and the substitute was my very first improv teacher, Laura Derry, and she reminded of one of the most powerful tools in life; generosity.
Read Josh’s full article about circle of life at improvisationsteater.se.