Written by SCITizens, Compiled and Edited by Natalie De Paz
Valentine’s Day is upon us, and we here at SCIT are celebrating some of the companionship—romantic and platonic— that was first discovered at SCIT. Many people think of improv as a way to meet new people, to get out of the house, and to try something new. Improv creates an inviting and safe place to express yourself and to get to know some new, friendly faces. Below are just a handful of stories about how some of our very own SCITizens found love and friendship through improv.
Robbie Marcus & Ray Stadelman
“In the supportive community that has built itself around the theater, you will find yourself making lots of friends, either in classes or at shows. Friends that you’ll start hanging out with before or after shows.” That’s how it started for improvisers Robbie Marcus and Ray Stadelman.
“We would be in groups of friends going to activities outside of improv too, like going to the National Aviary or helping people move. Eventually, we moved enough people away that the group of friends was just the two of us. And after the tenth outing or so that it was just us, we realized we were dating.”
& David Kwiatkowski
Dave Kwiatkowski started taking classes at SCIT in 2014 in the hopes of “meeting a woman.” Dave enjoyed his time taking improv classes and began dreaming about auditioning for a house team. Rachael Wonderlin began her SCIT journey in North Carolina by Googling improv theaters in Pittsburgh. She was on an improv team for four years in college and loved it. She also tried short-form improv during graduate school but didn’t enjoy it as much. After a two year break from improv, she decided it was time to get back into the game.
Rachael emailed SCIT asking about house team auditions, and someone from SCIT emailed her back, encouraging her to audition. The house team auditions started two days after she was planning to arrive in Pittsburgh. It seemed fast, but she was looking for a way to meet people. “It seemed like fate,” Wonderlin said.
Dave and Rachael had their first scene together during house team callbacks. Soon after, the house teams were settled and the team Vintage Quaid was born. Dave began walking Rachael to her car every evening after practice for “safety.” Their evenings and conversations got longer and longer.
To make a long story short, the pair began dating somewhere in the fall/winter of 2015 and then joined the independent improv team known as Classy & Relevant soon after. Dave and Rachael share two cats and an apartment in Mount Washington and have been performing together ever since.
Scott Duda & Rory McManuss
Love was in the air at Steel City Improv Theater on the evening of June 9, 2017. Erin Ross, an improviser on the former SCIT house team The Real Housewives of Montana, convinced hometown friend Rory McManus to participate in the then-biannual show, The Dating Game, as an eligible bachelorette. Erin then convinced Housewives teammate Scott Duda to sign up as a contestant in the same Dating Game to compete for Rory’s heart, intuiting that the two of them would probably get along swimmingly. During The Dating Game, Rory asked each of the four contestants (including Scott) hard-hitting questions like,
‘Do you own a house?’ and ‘How much money do you make?’
Scott recognized Rory’s straight-to-the-point demeanor and had an inkling that she was just his type, so he answered her questions to the best of his ability. In a nail-biting decision, Rory chose Scott to go on a blind date. The two of them enjoyed appetizers and drinks at Urban Tap as part of their prize, although the date almost turned into a disaster when it was revealed that their free drink prize tickets from The Dating Game were only good for beer (Rory hates beer). Fortunately, Scott saved the day by buying Rory a glass of red wine out of his personal coffers, thus sprouting what would soon grow to be a beautiful relationship.
Approximately 2.7 years have passed since that fateful Dating Game, and Rory and Scott are still going strong. You can typically find them in their natural habitat, snuggled up together on a couch watching something funny
It was during his second time taking Level 2 Improv that Selim Ozden met his friend Jim Cain. “When I met Jim and we both sat in the front row, I knew it was friendship at first sight: We exchanged numbers, then started going dancing together, and the rest is history.
We both share this extreme mentality of ‘F*ck yes!’ or ‘No.’
This means something is only worth our time if we are all about it. If there is a slight hesitation, it’s a no. We both build off of each other and bring out the best of each other, but I think especially in the improv environment our personalities thrive. We are allowed to spread hella positive energy and be the best support we can be to our ensemble-mates. Jim and I went through all the SCIT levels together and we grow closer every single day. I can honestly say I’ve met my best friend in Pittsburgh through improv classes. Thank you, SCIT!”
Jim Cain has a similar memory of the first time the duo met. “I met Selim in Level 2. He was the first person to introduce himself to me. I could tell right away this guy had a ton of energy and was genuinely excited to be here. He had a glow about him, he embodied passion. I knew there was something special about him. He lived life to the fullest and was extremely positive, both of which I admire. So naturally, when he said he was taking Level 2 again, I signed up! Then again, then one more time. It didn’t take long to develop a strong friendship. We went through all the classes together, created a team (Here On Purpose), and then created SelimJim. We even rode together when Here On Purpose traveled to Cincinnati and Louisville.
Twenty-two hours alone in a car with anyone would make you insane but with Selim those were the funniest times of my life.
I couldn’t have imagined I’d meet someone as great of a friend as Selim is. [I love] his authenticity, the ‘f*ck yes’ attitude, his positivity, everything. I’m so glad we met, I’m so grateful to have a place like SCIT to help bring us together.”