BFA’s Improv Team


BFA’s Improv Team Photo credit: Susan Palmer

Teresa Collins, Writer

Bellows Free Academy’s Improv Team meets on Fridays from 3 p.m.- 4 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center. The Improv Team is led by Susan Palmer, BFA’s drama teacher. Improv is a form of acting; Palmer described improv as “acting without a script.”

According to Palmer, the Improv Team plays many games to practice and improve their improv skills. Co-captain of the Team, Madison Gagner (‘23), said that some of the games they play are “Zip Zap Zop,” “I Have a Mustache,” “Park Bench” and “Interception.” 

“Park Bench” was described by Palmer.  “You have to believe you’re in a situation where you don’t know each other,” Palmer said. She added, “It’s like you were sitting on a bench in Taylor Park, and someone came along and they might wiggle their fingers in your face, and you would probably think they’re weird and leave.”

Some people may worry about failing to overcome creative obstacles, like what to say next. Palmer shared that she believes that failure is good, celebrates it and said it is something you don’t need to worry about. 

Co-captains Suzetta Chiappinelli (’23) and Gagner described how they get around their mental blocks stating that they just say whatever is the first thing that comes to mind, and everyone just goes with the flow.

Gagner described the improv environment as non-judgmental, fun and silly. Chiapinelli added that it is friendly, welcoming and chaotic. Chiapinelli also shared that although they typically have a normal crowd that participates in improv, they love to have new people come and try it out.

Palmer noted that improv has some good transferable skills and that there are different ways that people can use improv other than just in performances. 

“There’s a lot of different ways in which improv is used or shows up…When most people think of improv, they think of comedy improv,” Palmer said. She added, “Businesses use it to help business people; they often will bring in an improvisation coach to work with their business folks to help them with their presentational skills.”

To anybody who may be interested in the Improv Team, Gagner would advise you to try it. She says it’s low stakes, so you’re not risking much. The highest stakes would be performing, but if you just go to practice, you’re not risking much.

Chiappinelli said that improv is a good starting point if you have an interest in theater, and you should give it a try.

“If you don’t want to do something you’re not required to and compared to the occasional stress that theater can have, improv is very low in that. It’s a very chill environment for people who want to try theater,” Chiapinelli said.