A guest post by PAA instructor, Sarah “Frankie” Frank.
When I was 12 years old, I started training in improvisational acting and the skills I learned from my coaches and peers have had incredible influence on my life. Improv is a form of acting that requires quick thinking, word and image association and spontaneous partnership and group work.
In high school and college, I found an uncanny ability to speak in public and give presentations with the poise that my peers and professors admired. I never had to take a public speaking class because it came so naturally to me and I received only positive feedback on my presentation presence. When I started coaching improv, I realized that my seemingly natural gift could be attributed to the training I had during my years of Improv and acting. I can confidently say that my success in job interviews, and in research symposiums is largely due to my experiences as a young actor.
Theatre and Improv have always been my greatest passion, but the skills I learned when I was young have honed my communication abilities in ways that have led to a successful academic career and results in the professional fields in which I work. I believe that working with others on a stage in a safe space, like PAA, truly influences young people in developing their personal interactions, communication skills, and confidence in public speaking.
Last summer, I spent one week coaching Improv at the acting workshop with PAA and I was blown away by the progress I saw in the incredible students in the program. Many of them hadn’t experienced improv or acting training, but in just one week, they performed scenes in front of an audience and played Improv games that professionals perform live. By the end of the week, they were able to think more quickly, make stories out of thin air and each of them made incredible progress in their confidence with themselves and with one another.
No matter what future career the children of PAA will pursue, they will be better equipped to communicate, think critically and relate to others because of their experience in the performing arts.