I’ve heard about Camp Improv Utopia for a few years. It always sounded like a really great opportunity I should probably taken advantage of sometime but when it came to going – for whatever reason – I always stayed in my own little world.
And then Nick Armstrong invited me to come out and play. And he made it super easy and super fun for me to do it. And that action of saying yes reminded me of the yes I said years ago in my first improv class – it had this feeling of scariness and newness. I was surprised by my fear and the feeling of a wall I didn’t know I had up coming down and I pushed myself to step out into a moment that I knew at the very least was going to be wholly different from anything I had experienced before.
And what a moment it was. In terms of expectation, I knew the instruction was going to be excellent – five of the most talented and skilled leaders of what we love to do where going to be there. But what I didn’t expect, what was absolutely transformative to me where the people. The community of players who came together that weekend were open and friendly, hungry to learn and ready to play and that energy was incredible to be a part of.
Furthermore, this feeling of inclusion and community – permeated throughout the camp. It was invigorating to see real collaboration over the weekend – instructors in conversation with folks from all over the country sharing ideas, exercises, and mentoring. Artistic directors, festival managers, and newer improvisers sharing stories of their home theaters and learning and playing and doing bits together. Each class, each meal, each moment was an opportunity to connect and these wonderful improvisers were not only open to it – they were excited for it. And they made me excited for it too.
It’s been hard for me to write this piece because it has been hard put into words what Camp Improv Utopia did for me. Because it quite simply transformative. This incredible sense of community reconnected me with why I love improv. I love this art form because at the heart of it, you get this unique opportunity to connect with other people. And at camp, just like on-stage, when we slow down, we listen, and we connect, something beautiful can come alive and something transformative can happen.
I will tell anyone who will listen to me – you need to go to camp. And if you need help getting there, let me know. Do not underestimate, as I did, the rare opportunity we get in our lives to push ourselves into being more aware and more awake to each other and to build something great together. Nick and the Camp Improv Utopia East community reminded me of not just the importance of but necessity of that.
In Philadelphia, Maggy serves the Artistic Director for Figment Theater where she coaches and teaches regularly. She was the director of Davenger, a PHIT house team that won Best New Act at the 2013 WitOut Awards.