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Finding Joy

Susan Scovill is as versatile as she is talented. She is a CsZ Richmond Board member, Minor League Head Coach, a CSz player and ref. In her spare improv time she plays Elizabeth Quirk, half of the long form group "The Quirks".

Imagine a middle-aged woman with a busy life – married for many years, two teenagers, and a more-than-full-time job. A routine of work, laundry, kids’ homework and activities, and juggling task after task, day after day. Unexpectedly one day, a batch of free passes to ComedySportz® appears in the office.

After unsuccessful efforts to negotiate a date for an office group outing, I simply took four passes and brought my family to see the show.

It was wonderful! It was so funny, surprising, and engaging, and was a perfect outing with our 12-year old son and 15-year old daughter. I laughed so hard my face and stomach hurt. That summer, my son went to several weeks of KidzCamp at ComedySportz® and we attended more and more shows. One night, I said to myself, “I could do that!” I took the 101 class in the fall of 2005. In January of 2006, I auditioned for the Major League team and suddenly, I was an improviser!

I went to thirteen different schools in three countries in my first twelve years of school. I learned resilience and adaptability. While I never did any theater, I was funny. I became a lawyer and a trainer, both of which require thinking on your feet, gaining and keeping the attention of folks who may – or may not – want to hear what you have to say. I had learned that humor is the lubrication that makes information go down easy. Humor is rarely appreciated in a courtroom, but I was shameless in trainings. Suddenly there was a whole new arena in which spontaneous shamelessness was encouraged and appreciated.

But improv was more than simply fun. It was a new way of thinking about the world and of relating to people. The emphasis on “yes, and…” – yes I accept your offer and I build on it - on being in the moment, and really listening to others changed the way I communicated and reacted to my family, the people I worked with, and everyone I interacted with. My husband and family did not resent the time I spent improvising – they knew they benefited from it. I was a better person for doing improv. I listened more, I agreed more, I was less stressed and much nicer. If I told them I didn’t feel like going, they all cried out together, “No, please go!!” They knew that what was good for me was good for them. And all that reciprocal goodness made our lives better.

It is an unexpected gift to find such a new joy mid-way through one’s life. For an adult to relearn how to play is a wonderful opportunity. To also realize the many ways that play enhances one’s sense of self as well as improving and deepening our relationships with others is a gift that renews itself every day.

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