Women’s improv group provides safe, accepting and playful atmosphere

One participant says doing improv has improved many aspects of her life


Published on January 28, 2017

Kirstin Lund, left, and Sue Gauthier play the improv game ‘freeze tag’. Another player would call out ‘freeze’ replacing either Lund or Gauthier and begin acting out a new scene, justifying their unique body positions.

©MAUREEN COULTER/TC MEDIA

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Sue Gauthier has found that everything in her life has improved since joining an all-women’s improv group.

I feel like I can do whatever I want to do and feel confident in anything I want to take on Sue Gauthier

“Life is a lot more fun now,” said the Charlottetown area woman.

Gauthier is an introvert, and since starting this journey with WITTY Mama last January, she hasn’t looked back.

“Now, I’m not afraid to do stuff,” said Gauthier. “I still am a bit of an introvert, but I’m getting more out of my shell.”

Gauthier said she is more receptive to ideas and that her overall attitude to life has changed.

“I feel like I can do whatever I want to do and feel confident in anything I want to take on.”

Gauthier has also found comfort in doing improv with women, as the atmosphere is supportive, nurturing and accepting.

Gauthier has signed up to take the intermediate class with WITTY Mama over the next 12 weeks at St. Paul’s Parish Hall Monday nights.

“You meet some really wonderful people and you do get to get out of your shell and you have so much fun and you laugh a lot,” said Gauthier. “The instructors are amazing, and you go home in a really great mood.”

The playful and creative minds behind WITTY Mama are Kirstin Lund, Patti Larsen and Nancy McLure.

The improv group formed in January 2015.

Lund was looking for an opportunity to join an all-women improv group in P.E.I., but couldn’t find one.  

So she reached out to Larsen and McLure to form WITTY Mama.

Larsen said she was more than willing to start a group and share her love of improv with other women.

“It’s so empowering,” said Larsen. “It’s so joyful and bringing women together who don’t necessarily get an opportunity to just have fun and play and hang out with other really cool women.”

Larsen teaches the introduction class where students get to look at the who, what, when, where, why and how of improv.

“I know for myself, specifically as a teacher, I’m a nurturer and I want the women I’m teaching to feel like they belong and to feel like they are valued and to feel less like a competition and more like a collaboration.”

Lund, who is a conflict resolution and collaboration expert, said the first thing she noticed when she took improv was this collaborative aspect.

“Improv is about saying ‘yes and’,” said Lund. “I hear a lot of people say that because of improv they are saying yes to so many other things that they would have said no to.”

Kirstin Lund, left, Patti Larsen and Sue Gauthier are some familiar faces you will see in an all women improv group. Lund, Larsen and Nancy McLure, not pictured, are the women behind Witty Mama. Gauthier, who is in the intermediate class, said these classes have changed her for the better.

©MAUREEN COULTER/TC MEDIA

McLure’s intermediate class allows people to go further into the art of improv by giving them the chance to develop their skills, explore different techniques and gain a deeper understanding of improvising theatre.

“The goal is never to be funny. The goal is to be authentic and often that ends up being funny. Improv is literally about not thinking and saying yes,” said Larsen. “If you have a preconceived idea don’t use that, use the one that comes to you in the moment.”

Lund adds, “It is a lot of laughs but if you try to be funny, it doesn't usually work.”

Gauthier said there is no pressure to learn lines, and the instructors teach all the techniques you need to know to “play”.

Larsen said the classes even have rituals to celebrate your mistakes.

“If you bring judgment to class, it can’t last long because everyone is making fools of themselves.”

Want to play?

- WITTY Mama is offering two 12-week class options, an intro and intermediate class, beginning today, 6:30-9 p.m.

- Advanced alumni can also participate but only in the playtime portion of the evening

- To register, visit www.wittymama2017.eventbrite.com

Fun fact

What does WITTY stand for?

Women, Improv, Thrown, Together, Yo

maureen.coulter@tc.tc

Twitter.com/MaureenElizaC