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Dear Blue Door Theatre and Spokane School of Improv,

I was never interested in becoming an improv player. I have watched others perform, enamored by their quick wit and humor, and I could never imagine myself in their shoes. My wit appears about three days after it is needed, unlike the outstanding improv players I have seen who can think cleverly on the spot.

In January 2023, my 12-year-old daughter, Midori, decided to take a 2-hour improv class for fun, and the teachers put on a show that night. We attended the show, and I was mesmerized, not just by their talent but by their ease and how much fun they seemed to be having. They informed the audience of the Blue Door Theatre's brand-new Spokane School of Improv, and I immediately signed up for an 8-week Improv 101 class.

At the time, I was going to school to become an American Sign Language interpreter. While I gained many skills with ASL and interpreting, my fear of being in front of any audience larger than one person terrified me. My voice trembled when I spoke to interpret what was signed, and my hands and body visibly shook, even long after I sat down. I decided to take an improv class for this very reason. It frightened me! But I knew it was the challenge I needed to overcome my fear of being in front of an audience and thinking quicker than a 3-day turnaround.

Driving to my first class, I kicked myself for signing up. My hands shook as I drove down Garland Avenue. I wondered what on earth I had been thinking when I spontaneously signed up that night. Who pays money to be scared and act like a fool in front of strangers? I held back the urge to turn around as the Blue Door Theatre came into view. I wished I had at least signed up with a friend so it wouldn't be as scary as going alone. However, I knew the reason for that. I wanted the challenge of being entirely out of my element with no safety net in a friend.

I nervously entered the theater, unsure of what to expect. The teacher, Clarissa, welcomed me with a warm smile. I sat silently, waiting for the rest of the class to arrive. Was everyone else as scared as I was? I didn't know anyone, but they would soon find out how awful I was at improvising and forming coherent sentences. Would they all cringe when they had to do a scene with Delayed-Wit-Becky? My entire body trembled, and I started to sweat despite being cold at the same time. The class started, and Clarissa invited us all to the stage. I was shocked by what happened next. Within ten minutes, all my nerves and fears had vanished. The shaking and nervous sweating had stopped. I was laughing harder than I had laughed in ... I can't even remember the last time I laughed that hard. I left that night feeling like a kid who got a "like" from their favorite TikTok star. This school's ability to quickly vanish my fears was, hands down, the best magic I have ever witnessed.

Week after week, I attended the 101 class. There were nights I was exhausted with too much on my plate and considered skipping. But I was committed to the process and went regardless of my packed schedule. I always showed up knowing that every time I left the Spokane School of Improv, I had the most significant energy boost and feelings of euphoria. These classes hooked me from day one. I have since taken four additional courses beyond 101, and each teacher I have worked with so far, Frank, Annica, and Jake, was just as incredible and warm as Clarissa—each person creating a safe environment for inclusion, acceptance, and growth.

I am completely in awe at what improv can do for people beyond entertainment. I am proof that improv does so much more than entertain. It has given me confidence, calmed my nerves, and made me feel safe to be my genuine, authentic self. It has shown me that I belong, regardless of how I compare to others. It has also taught me to work with numerous personalities, have a voice, and truly listen. These empowering, positive skills transfer beyond the theater and into my daily life with my family, friends, and community.

With sincere gratitude and appreciation,

Becky Torvik 
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