It’s time you got to know our brand new grad, Kaitlyn Forks!
We think she’s swell and think you will, too.
How’d you hear about the shop and what made you want to get involved?
Kurt Vonnegut is my favorite author. I drove by the shop after work one day and I recognized the asterisk immediately. I had just moved to St. Louis. I didn’t know many people and I was feeling pretty down about work and school. I had no experience with theater and I barely knew anything about comedy but I decided on improv because I needed something that I did for myself. I had no idea that I would find a community here and learn so much about being a better person.
Looking back on the past several months of classes, do you have any favorite memories?
Meredith Putney was the first person in my Level 1 class to accept an invitation to hang out and see a show at the shop. One time Leslie Symonds brought Christmas music to one of our annex practices and we did silent scenes that ended up being really beautiful. Cody King loved spontaneously bringing everyone breakfast. When we almost lost Jered Schneider to scheduling issues, we basically worked together as a class to petition another section so he could graduate with us. The first class in Level 4 John called roll by our drink orders and we all died laughing. I still remember this really poignant story Faith Stagge and our classmates discovered in a tag out run about a child whose doll’s arm ripped and the subsequent journey to becoming a doctor who felt overwhelmed by the need to fix everything. We did a lot of looking in each others’ eyes and holding hands and if I was paired up with Mary Shannon for anything remotely vulnerable I was GUARANTEED to cry. I want to name drop everyone in my class but I will spare the readers and just stop there.
What is the best improv advice or note you have received that really resonated?
I attended a workshop led by Liz Allen called “Turning Corners,” about editing scenes. In the workshop Liz challenged us to edit with empathy, to “heed the pause” when we reach moments of poignancy in our piece. Avoiding the pause is saying, “What has happened so far isn’t enough,” or “I’m afraid of what will happen next.” It’s rooted in fear and ego, and that’s why when we don’t edit “we get stuck in the mud.” Like most good improv advice, I realized this would help me off stage, too. When I feel pause or change in my life, I become very fearful and revert to some of my less favored behavior patterns, stress, anxiety, self medication, etc. Turning corners with grace and openness has always been a challenge for me. Since then I’ve been centering myself in those ideas- trying to be thankful and find faith instead of giving in to the fear that what’s around the corner might not satisfy me. This advice was a game changer for my improv and my personal growth.
Can you share some words of wisdom with those just starting out?
Love on your classmates. They’re your anchors. Keep a journal of the things you learn in class and see how those lessons play out in your life. Take every opportunity to get on stage. Go to every Student Jam and stay for Nightcaps. Do tech for The Bunker. Sincerely try to know and understand the people at the shop because they’ve all got stories to tell and they know SO MUCH you don’t know.
Anything you’d like to plug?
Yeah, can you boost this thank you note?
After what have been two of the most challenging years of my life, I’m so grateful to have seen that big ole butt hole on the side of our place and now know I have somewhere I belong. Maybe I stumbled into this building by chance but Kurt Vonnegut says, “Only on Earth is there any talk of free will.” I think I was meant to thrive and grow here. This community has shaped me by being themselves and showing me relentless support. If that isn’t nice. I don’t know what is.
“I love you sons of bitches. You’re all I read any more. You’re the only ones who’ll talk all about the really terrific changes going on, the only ones crazy enough to know that life is a space voyage, and not a short one, either, but one that’ll last for billions of years. You’re the only ones with guts enough to really care about the future, who really notice what machines do to us, what wars do to us, what cities do to us, what big, simple ideas do to us, what tremendous misunderstanding, mistakes, accidents, catastrophes do to us. You’re the only ones zany enough to agonize over time and distance without limit, over mysteries that will never die, over the fact that we are right now determining whether the space voyage for the next billion years or so is going to be Heaven or Hell.” – Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You Mr. Rosewater
The Improv Shop made St. Louis my home. Thanks y’all.