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For those of you know me, hello and I probably love you. To those who do not, let me introduce myself. I am a somewhat tall, loud, enthusiastic, goofy, optimistic female. To both parties (strangers and pals alike), here are some things you probably don’t know about me: I am quite an anxious person, and I struggle from ongoing chronic health problems such as arthritis, currently in the business of trying to diagnose whether I have an autoimmune disease or not, the world’s dodgiest knees/back, and as previously mentioned, some not fun anxiety times.
Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to be a part of my first ever Improv Conspiracy Harold Team, Crown Boy. Alongside my fellow Crownies, I believe I have thrived in the TIC community, having learned so much about improv and about myself. But the main thing I have learned is about the importance of support. Yes, you’ve read articles about support and how “it is key in group work” and how “teamwork makes the dream work” and so on. This is all very true! But there seems to be an element I believe in much stronger, much deeper than just “team work”; friendship.
As our time together as Crown Boy went on, we lost a few of our beautiful team members along the way, thus leaving me the sole female member in our little family. Now, this didn’t seem to be an issue in any way to me, but I began to receive many comments from people, some curious and some slightly peeved about the situation. Some people expressed that they believed we needed more female team members for it to be equal and fair. I completely agree that comedy is very much a boys club and that women deserve as much of a voice as men get, but at the same time, these people were focusing on what had happened later in the team’s run. Initially, we were cast as an even team of four men and four women, and due to different circumstances [unrelated to the casting panel - Ed.], the gender balance changed over time.
Being the only woman in an improv team can seem like a daunting idea. Especially considering my anxiety, 6 months ago I would have been worried that I would be left to die on the stage in certain situations. Maybe I’d be cast into cliché stereotypical female roles such as “the wife who disagrees” or “the daughter who needs to listen to her dad” and nothing else (which has happened in classes and performances to many women, who can often feel unsupported when this happens). However, I never once experienced this with Crown Boy. Anyone who worried about my stage time or being treated equally as the lone female was wrong. I have never felt more supported than when I did shows with those men (in shows and in life), who not only endowed me as their fathers, their brothers, their bosses, but purposefully listened and understood what I was feeling. They treated all the women in our team with respect and kindness, leaving us with so much happy room to get to know one another. Not only that, before they departed the women on my team taught me ferocity and intelligence – their emphasis on equality within the cohort only brought about a more supportive environment. We became more than a team, but a close group of friends who to this day check in with each other every hour, forever keeping tabs on how much we love one another.
There were many times when I would have intense back spasms and be unable to play. There were many times when I very nearly had panic attacks before performances. There were many times when my silly, lurid personality wasn’t shining through. And in all of these times, I was supported. It was as if I was wearing a really comfy (yet also super bedazzled and sought after) bra made of love and understanding. Both the men and women in this team lifted my spirits up, making me seem perkier, whilst firmly clasping between my shoulder blades. They always had my back.
Support is immensely important in life, and in improv. If you’re breaking down, it’s comforting to have your mother hug you and tell you that you will be okay. If you’re stressed out, it helps to laugh till you wet yourself with your best friends. And if you have a peppy persona to uphold but you’re in a scared state of mind, it’s relieving to have someone remind you that you are funny and good and don’t need to be loud and crazy all the time. These people have been my love-bra, and they have supported me with not just team work, but with friendship.
Thank you, Crown Boy, for letting me be loud, afraid, in pain, nervous, female, male, a dog high on THC, an atmospheric ghost Jesus, and most importantly, myself.
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