We caught up with Jenna Staab this week and chatted about her experience with improv in St. Pete and being involved with Unscripted since the beginning. Here's what she had to say.
1. How did you get started doing improv? What's your story?
I don’t really remember what inspired me to take my first class. I think I was searching for two things. 1) More laughter in my life, and 2) I needed something that was designed to be imperfect. One of my favorite parts of improv is that it isn’t precious. It’s one and done, no looking back. You simply cannot achieve perfection. And as a total Type A person, I needed it! Improv is one of the hardest and easiest things I’ve ever done all rolled into one.
2. What have you been involved with at Unscripted?
My troupe, Separate Checks, has been in the Cagematch and the Showcase since the theater opened. I personally have started hosting shows and am slowly developing my own hosting style - I try very hard to connect w/ the audience and make them feel at home. Mostly, I love to give my 2 cents and unsolicited opinion about theater life whenever I can. I think it’s really making a difference.
3. What's your personal approach to improv?
Oy. Part of me wishes I had a super smart answer here. But I really don’t. As I develop my skills I go back and forth between focusing on every tool that is key to good improv, and just trying to have fun and stop thinking so hard. I’m kind of at peace right now with an approach that is less "try and be great," and more "just keep trying."
I do love being a part of a troupe. Group mind is very powerful and when it is working it makes for such amazing scenes. I like the challenge of having to figure out, as a group, how to communicate better. I find my troupe members very energizing when they’re not pissing me off.
6. What sort of advice would you have for a new person who wants to be part of the Unscripted community?
It’s really very simple - no one ever got LESS out of life by trying improv.
7. What do you hope for the future of the theater and the St. Pete improv scene?
I hope for a line at the door of Unscripted every night for every show. This little theater makes me so happy and I am so grateful that it exists.
For the improv scene at large: Every time someone new comes to a show, we have the chance to make them feel welcome. Our number one job off stage is to thank our audience and let them know we appreciate them coming. So I guess my hope for the scene in general is that we, as the existing community, work to embrace anyone who shows up. Not physically of course. Unless they look like they need a hug - then it seems like we’re kind of obligated to yes...and them with a hug. I one hundred percent believe that that right there can help the entire scene thrive.
8. Anything else?
Standing here on stage.
Brain begins to yield focus.
And I start my scene.
You can catch Jenna hosting the Improv Showcase next season on Friday nights @ 8P and performing with Separate Checks in the Improv Showcase at Unscripted and House Teams Live shows at American Stage.