The Amanda Reed Edition
Edited by Natalie De Paz
SCIT believes improv is life-changing. Once you start taking classes, jamming, performing on teams, the skills you learn on stage begin to seep out into the “real world.” In this new SCIT Blog series, individual SCITizens tell us about their particular experiences with the daily benefits of improv.
This month, we are featuring improviser Amanda Reed, who is on the active SCIT House Team Step Friends. We met virtually, via email, (classy New Yorker style) to talk about the impact improv has had on her, personally. Our conversation has been edited.
When and where did you start your improv journey? Give us a little background. How did you know this would be your thing?
I was a theater kid in high school, and I did some theater festivals here and there in college. After I graduated from Pitt in 2018, I noticed that I really missed performing. Also, sometimes my tweets get more than 10 likes, the handle is @reedkat_ (please follow!), I figured I should channel that chaotic Internet energy into something productive. It was a weeknight, I wasn’t up to anything, and I saw SCIT was offering a sample class. I made the quick walk from my apartment to the theater, enjoyed the class, and decided to put Level One on my brand new credit card. I decided to keep putting improv classes on my credit card, and here we are.
How do you use improv in your everyday life?
I’m a journalist and social media coordinator, so I write words all the time. Improv helps me think more creatively with words so people will want to read them, and I can pay the bills.
Has improv changed your perspective on anything?
I have the opposite of stage fright and hate performing in front of small crowds. I’m also a huge perfectionist — Thanks Mom and Dad! Performing in a space where experimentation and making bold choices were encouraged helped me get over my fear of failure. I can also give a presentation without vomiting on the ground, which has helped my relationship with my co-workers immensely.
Describe your performance style. What is something you’ve learned from teachers/coaches along the way that has made a big impact on your improv philosophy and/or performance style?
I’m definitely the person who goes on stage and pretends to be a haggard old man smoking a cigarette, because I feel that’s who I am inside. Always making positive choices has made a big impact on me. It’s so easy in life and onstage to jump to negativity. I have anxiety and depression (Again, thank you Mom and Dad!), and I absolutely love assuming the worst will happen — it’s my favorite way to spend a Friday night! Trying to find love and positivity in a scene — even when it’s a disagreement — has helped me seek that in people I encounter IRL.
What is the one core value you practice in your performances? What are qualities you appreciate in teammates/scene partners?
Cliché as it sounds, I’m big into “yes, and”-ing when I’m onstage. I always try to listen and help my partner build this little world we’re creating in the moment. I love it when partners catch weird mannerisms/phrases and play on it, or when we meet in the middle with our ideas. Just having fun also helps!
Please share a favorite SCIT memory for us and why it is special to you.
I actually got my first full-time job thanks to SCIT. I took Level 1 Improv with the founder of a start-up, which I did not know at the time because I am a clueless chump. While job hunting (as you do when you are #broke), I stumbled across a job at The start-up, noticed I knew THE MAN WHO FOUNDED THE COMPANY FROM IMPROV.
I applied because I knew I could Trojan Horse my way into the office based on this personal connection. I emailed the founder, and did not get the position. This story has a happy ending though because I was offered a paid (!!!) post-grad internship. I took said internship, and then became the ultimate intern by getting hired full-time. It’s special to me because it gave me health insurance, but is truly the most serendipitous thing that has ever happened to me.
In one sentence, please tell us: How has improv changed your life?
Improv has changed my life by giving me the space to unleash the post-midnight snack gremlin living inside my body.
If you have been thinking about trying out improv and you’re not sure where to start, register for one of our FREE Sample Classes!