Improv as Therapy

Gulfshore Life Magazine
Melanie Pefinis
February 2019 (Pages 63-64)

The Naples Players put on a great show, as we theatergoers know. But maybe not all of us know that the 65-year-old institution seeks to educate our community as well as entertain it. There are the KidzAct youth program, internship opportunities, diverse creative workshop offerings for adults–and inclusive classes for people with additional needs, including improv for individuals with autism and those with social anxiety.

Margot Escott was familiar with the mission, so when she approached the players about bringing her own improv classes to the company, she knew the techniques she used with Parkinson’s patients would fit right in.

Escott explains, “When students with issues like Parkinson’s start changing the way they think about themselves, this actually helps to create a new neural pathway. Improv helps provide more insight and self-awareness.” Her classes also teach mindfulness. “Mindfulness is learning to be in the present moment, to be here now, and that is also a core concept in improv.”

She adds, “All improv games provide problems to be solved. This affects cognitive ability. Improv increases neurological changes in our brains.”

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