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Arts and Entertainment

Improv class to crack shy teens out of their shell
CAST Off Laugh Off offered April 22–May 27
 
Published Friday, April 4, 2014
by Michaela L. Duckett

Actor and performing arts educator Elizabeth “E.B” Byland, a company actor with Carolina Actors Studio Theatre in NoDa, believes improv (term for unscripted theatrical improvisation) saved her life.

As a teen, Byland recalls being “painfully shy” and “socially awkward.” As a result, she was often bullied.

In high school, she got involved in improv acting, and said the experience made all the difference in bringing her out of her shell.

“It literally changed my life,” she wrote in an email to The Post. “Not only did I become socially confident and excused leadership qualities, but I found myself raising my hand in class more because I realized how important it was to let my voice be heard and to just be myself.”

Byland recently relocated to Charlotte from Savannah, Ga., where she taught and led a group of college students to winning first place in the South East College Improv Tournament. Now, she is taking on the challenge of sharing the gift of improv with students here in the hopes that learning a new skill will give them the same boost of confidence she received.

“Improv is completely non-biased to those of us that can’t sing a lick and/or dancers with only two left feet,” she said. “Improv is about ‘jumping off the cliff’ and facing your fears, while simply telling true and honest stories that are not predetermined or scripted.”

She has developed a five-week improv course for students ages 12-18 titled “CAST Off Laugh Off,” which will be offered this spring through CAST beginning April 22. CAST Off Laugh Off follows the core curriculum and building blocks of short-form and long-form improve programs such as Second City and Improv Olympic, while incorporating the necessary acting techniques for theatre performance.

The after-school program will conclude with a grand finale, all-improvised performance June 3. The class costs $250, and Byland said half of the proceeds will be donated to CAST in support of the company’s 2014 production season.

Visit www.NCCAST.com for registration or more information. Byland can be reached directly at elizabethbyland@gmail.com.

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