By Betsy Natter
Bucks County teens have a new outlet to relieve everyday stress, the Teen Improve Academy. The six-week program will allow teens to explore different life situations through art. The program is run by Will and Danielle Dennis of Langhorne, PA. They have theater in their bones and they want to share what they know. They are both members of Actors Equity Association (Will as a performer and Danielle as a Stage Manager), they credit their upbringing in theater at a young age with the people they’ve become today. The two even met while working at the same regional theater and then got engaged at Act II Playhouse in Ambler. It may come as no surprise, then, that there dream has always been to open up a company devoted to empowering students of all ages through art. And so they did just that, launching UnScripted Productions this spring.
“I’ve had been teaching comedic improvisation for almost ten years and had seen the amazing impact it has had on peoples lives – not as performers so much as human beings. The benefits are remarkable. The tenants of improv have become a philosophy for how I live my own life.” Will said. “I always knew I wanted to share that with others.”
UnScripted Productions is a creativity company using theater and improvisation to help people become the best humans, not necessarily the next Broadway stars. In recent years a significant amount of research has come out to support the benefits of improvisation. It is finally being recognized as an ideal way to build 21st century skills – enhanced communication, self-confidence, innovation, teamwork and collaboration, creativity, public-speaking skills, etc. Companies are using improv in their professional development and team-building workshops, adults across the globe are finding new found energy and passion while socializing with new people. With teens, particularly, there has been significant research to support improv as a means to help reduce anxiety.
Energized by new research, Will connected with Maureen McKenna of Yardley, PA, founder and owner of Big Bear Fitness and Yoga. Maureen immediate saw a connection between her own passion for wellness and individual self-improvement and the work that Will was doing with improvisation. “Everything we do here at Big Bear Fitness and Yoga is about wellness. Everything Will was doing with improv was the same. Joining forces felt like a no-brainer.” The two are partnering to support one another’s efforts and to support the teens of Bucks County. They launched the Teen Improv Academy as a team. It's a six-week program (one evening a week from 7pm-8:30pm) hosted at Big Bear Fitness, where teens learn about the core tenants of improv; namely the idea of acceptance, judgement free collaboration, safe risk-taking in a supportive environment and selflessness. This all happens in the context of fun – exercises, activities and games like those seen on Whose Line Is It Anyway – and allows for 90 minutes of screen-less, unplugged interaction with peers. Classes begin May 17.
The course culminates in a shared performance for family and friends during the sixth week. To learn more and register visit: www.unscriptedproductions.com or call 215-694-7473