There's a TON of great students in the improv program at Spitfire and we think it's about time you heard from them. Follow us in the coming weeks as we put the Spotlight on our students - the heart and soul of the theater - and share a little bit of their experience taking classes and learning the craft of comedy art.
This week we talked with the incredibly talented and energized Mary Rill. Mary talks about what got her into improv, about getting over fear on stage and celebrating failures in improv. You'll see her around the theater nearly every weekend playing in multiple shows with different teams, or in the audience checking out new teams ans shows at Spitfire.
How did you first learn about improv?
In college I was in the group that led Freshman Orientation. Our training included playing improv games. After that all I wanted to do was play improv games so I would lead them in every other group I was a part of on campus. People hated me for it, but I had a blast.
Why'd you decide to start doing improv?
I was extremely bored with my job and wanted to do something fun and creative for myself. My best friend had done it before and said she loved it. I was scared to death during my first class but that went away quickly.
Did you have any acting or improv experience when you signed up for your first class?
What's your favorite memory from classes so far?
My favorite memory is probably my very first class at Spitfire. I didn't know what to expect but everyone was extremely welcoming and the games we played made me feel so comfortable. I felt at home right away. Also, the first showcase was amazing! I felt so connected with my class and the theater that I was able to put aside my fears and I truly enjoyed performing in front of an audience for the first time.
What kind of folks do you like to see in improv classes?
People who are having a blast and aren't worried about messing up. The best part of classes is learning together, which includes failing together. If you're ok with that idea, class will be a blast.
What do you think makes a good improv student?
Showing up, trying and respecting that your classmates are doing the same thing. Missing the mark and not feeling good about your performance in class or on stage will be a part of it. Accepting that and continuing to try until it clicks is what it is about.
What kind of comedy do you like?
I like comedy that is based on something realistic. You could picture it happening in your life but it exaggerates a situation or a feeling. For instance, Monty Python and the Holy Grail is not funny to me because what are they even doing? The Office is hilarious because it exaggerates what an office setting is like and we can all relate.
P.S. Please do not hate me for saying I don't think Monty Python is funny. xoxo
What advice would you give a new improv student?
OMG you are so lucky you are a new improv student because you are about to have the time of your life! And since that is not advice, I would say just be yourself. When you are true to that you play to the best of your ability and you have a really good time on stage. Be yourself and celebrate the failures. You're amazing for getting up and doing it. You're amazing for trying. For real.
Mary is currently enrolled in ST4: Narrative Improv. You can see her perform in The Big Damn Comedy Show on select Saturdays this season with her duos Just the Tip & Mike & Mary, as well as on Fridays in The Spitfire Open with her teams 50 Shades of Gravy & Mixed Nuts. Mary is a regular performer in Whose Line St Pete on Saturday nights and will be appearing this April in the Spitfire Mainstage Murder on the Hogwarts Express.
Thinking about taking improv classes? Sign up now for ST1: Foundations and save 25% on your first class! Learn More >>