Shawnee Mission South Improvisation Performers Mentor Middle School Students

IW Improv
Shawnee Mission School District

A group of Shawnee Mission South students have been lending a hand to help improve the improv acting skills of Indian Woods Middle School students.

The high school students are attending an after-school Improv Club at Indian Woods. There, they teach the middle school students a variety of games to help them practice their improv technique. While many of the games are related to acting and performance, several students shared the skills of improv can also be useful beyond the stage.

“Improv gives you a chance to express yourself,” Max Bounyadeth, SM South senior said to students at the workshop. “When you are doing improv, there are no mistakes, only opportunities.”

One activity called “Pan-Right, Pan-Left” involves four students standing in a square who, invite topic ideas from an audience. The two actors at the front of the square interact based on their given topics. The moderator gives instructions to pan-right or pan-left and the scene changes with each student and their different topics. At a recent practice, one audience member suggested “something you would find in your grandparent’s car.” Another suggested students act as a famous celebrity.

“I like coming to these workshops because they make it really fun and understand our sense of humor,” Kate Warford-Grow, eighth-grader said.

The partnership began last year when Shelly Huffman, Indian Woods English teacher, wanted to help expand her student’s improv skills.

The workshops provide several benefits, Huffman said. Her students have expressed they are interested in learning from high school students and the collaboration helps strengthen skills and interest in both programs.

The response has been so positive, they may continue the workshops into second semester Huffman said.

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