Today’s guest blogger is Sarah Hendrickson, Instructor of Improvisation with the Michigan State University Department of Theatre. Sarah will be the Saturday presenter for an afternoon workshop and evening performance for the 23rd Annual Arts Weekend.
Entertain You! Improv Workshop & Show
As a native of Michigan, some of my favorite childhood memories are from the long-anticipated annual trips to Mackinac Island with my family. There’s something truly magical about the island and its most famous landmark, Grand Hotel. A place so special, the journey there is, in itself, an adventure. Ferry across a great lake, bike through the historic streets, and ride in a horse-drawn carriage up to the world’s longest porch. The Grand plays hard to get, but once you reach her, you can’t help but fall in love.
Like many young people fresh out of college in the Midwest, I made my way to Chicago. Soon after my arrival, I stumbled upon the art of improvisation. It’s kind of impossible to avoid it in the city where improv comedy, as we know it, was created and cultivated. At first, I adopted it as a tool for survival in commercial auditions where the casting director would instruct, “now throw away the script and make it your own!” This concept was terrifying to me, as I had always been taught to show reverence for the writing and do my actor homework. Make it my own? Yikes.
So, I started taking classes at The Second City, the world’s premier comedy club, comedy theatre and school of improvisation. What started out as a tentative toe dip into the principles of improv, became an immersion into a community of passionate, clever, and lovely performers. I had found my people.
Improvisation isn’t just about being funny. Sure, that helps, but it’s so much more. The entire show is made up on the spot, based on suggestions from the audience, so we need to take care of each other on stage. We do this by listening, saying yes, and building on each other’s ideas. To that end, the fundamentals of improv translate off stage as well.
The next 10 years were a whirlwind of working as an improviser, actress, teacher and producer, touring all over the world. I had always felt a special connection to my home state, and knew that I would return one day. I am thrilled to be back in “The Mitten”, working as an Instructor of Improvisation in the Department of Theatre at MSU, and as an Institute Teaching Artist for Wharton Center for Performing Arts. I am excited to share with my students how improv can connect to people from all walks of life – improv as a performance, improv as a way to generate scripted material, improv as a way for professionals to become better collaborators, introverts and extroverts working together harmoniously… The list is endless.
What an honor to bring my fellow improvisers in from Chicago to perform for the 2017 MSU College of Arts & Letters Arts Weekend. Not only is it a wonderful opportunity for us to play together in a beautiful space for people that support the arts, but I am also able to share with them the beauty that I grew up visiting every summer. I am proud to be a Michigander. I am proud to be an alumna of Michigan State University. I can’t wait to combine these pride points together this summer. Go Green!
Join us for Sarah’s afternoon workshop and evening performance on Saturday, June 24th as a feature of the 23rd Annual Arts Weekend presented by the Michigan State University College of Arts & Letters.