My first foray into improv was in my second year of college. Not yet 20, I was instantly enthralled with the genre. The group I joined was primarily men, most were older than me, and all were devastatingly funny. It was a little intimidating for a closet introvert to be thrust into a situation where everyone seemed much cleverer and quicker witted than I perceived myself to be. I pursued a degree in acting, other performance opportunities arose, and I stopped doing improv. Eventually, I stopped doing theater at all. Years passed. Heck, decades passed.

I was on a sabbatical from work, staying home with my new baby, desperate for human interaction with someone whose diapers I did not have to change, and my husband suggested, “Instead of harassing every supermarket checker you meet with life questions, why don’t you take a night class or something?” Great idea! But what was I interested in?

Improv! I used to do improv in college. And this is how I found my way to NCT San Diego. I signed up for the level 1 improv class. I was excited and nervous the first day of class at the theater. Would I still be able to do it?

The beauty of being a more mature human is I care less and less what people think of me every year that passes. I should note that “mature” references my time on this planet much more than my actual maturity.  I think it was this lack of concern that made improv in my forties much more fun than in my youth. I went through all the classes, regained my affinity for it, and eventually joined the MainStage team. Looking around my first practice, the demographic skewed pretty young. Seemingly everyone was in their twenties or early thirties. By this time my kid had grown and I was back at work full time.

Getting a chance to shrug all the “real” life and responsibilities off has been a delight for the years I’ve been with the theater. A bright spot I hadn’t anticipated, was how being a part of NCT allowed me to make lasting friendships with this younger crowd. Thanks to green room discussions I now am much more knowledgeable on things like Dungeons & Dragons, Snapchat, and the Marvel universe.

Improv is sometimes scary, always exhilarating and forgivingly transient.

And I miss it. A lot.

-Sacha Volek, MainStage Cast