Just Say Yes: A Venture into Getting Out of My Comfort Zone

Katya Austin

Well everyone, today is the day. The day I meet a group of strangers, hang out with them for 8 weeks, and learn how to always say ~yes~ (first rule of improv, in case you didn’t know – now you know).

How do I feel? Well…can’t tell yet if the butterflies I have are full of excitement to get back into acting, or soon to be moths of nervousness at the prospect of meeting a group of complete strangers, BUT let’s just keep our fingers crossed for the former. Positive thoughts and such. In honor of getting back into one of my passions (throwback to my first blog post, hey), here’s a little story about the time I actually improvised in a middle school play, to the delight of our audience. For a role with only three lines, I’d like to think that I left quite the impression.

The play was an Old West-version of “Taming of the Shrew”, entitled “Rowdy Kate”. I had lofty aspirations to play the lead (as did the other girls in the class), but was given the role of the sidekick to Tricky Pete, our play’s villain. And what was the name of this lovely character?

Gruesome Moe. Gruesome Moe. Gruesome. Moe. GrUeSoMe MoE.

My already fragile 7th grade-ego thought that surely my drama teacher was trying to send a message. I was not very content with this role, but I was going to make the best of it! My time to shine came when, during the play, Tricky Pete and I had to suddenly “disguise” ourselves as the sheriff approached. Now, during rehearsals, the next movement was as simple as grabbing hooded cloaks from a chest next to our feet, pretending to fumble with the clothing, and then getting them on in the nick of time. Easy enough, right? 

Ha. You already know the answer to this, or I wouldn’t be writing about it. 

Basically, when the time came to “fumble” with my cloak, I made it a bit too realistic – and then began fumbling with the costume for real. As time was running out, I threw the cloak on and reached back to grab for the hood…only to realize it was in the front.

I had put the costume on backwards! The play was ruined because the sheriff was going to recognize Gruesome Moe and the rest of the plot would be rendered nonsensical!

Not on my watch.

I quickly weighed my decisions, looked down at the hood, then looked up at the audience – and, with a shrug and a smirk, I threw the hood over my face! The audience immediately started laughing, and I realized that they believed it was scripted all along. Crisis averted, 7th grade play integrity preserved! The entire scene carried on that way, and with my two lines (my third was later in the play) muffled through the hood, the gag just continued beautifully. Later on, my drama teacher told me that it had been a brilliant move…okay, he might not have said “brilliant”, exactly, but it was close. Hey, cut me some slack – this was a decade ago. 

You know, after telling this story, I actually think that maybe I’ll be just fine in this class. If I can think on my feet and learn to always say “yes”, this could be a really productive 8 weeks! Wish me luck…and if there’s anything for you to take away from this: 

1. Go with the flow if a situation isn’t going your way, and make the best of it. People might actually think it’s what you intended in the first place.

2. Try to say “yes” to intimidating things in your life…maybe not always, but do it occasionally and you’ll be surprised by how powerful you feel!

3.   If you ever play the villainous sidekick with “Gruesome” in their name, in a Wild West version of a Shakespearean classic….we have something in common.

Until next time! 

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