Take Five with Bridget Cavaiola, Baltimore Improv Group

The Baltimore Sun
Baltimore Improv Group's education director talks everything improv.

Don't worry — it's still OK or adults to play. Bridget Cavaiola, 33, of Hampden is the education director for the Baltimore Improv Group, aka: BIG, where she has merged her love of teaching and theater. She teaches improv classes to people of all ages and tries to always live the “improv spirit” by being present, in-the-moment and saying 'yes.'

BIG will be featured in the Charm City Fringe Festival, launching Sunday (charmcityfringe.com). BIG performances, Nov. 5-9, will be at the group's “new home,” the Mercury Theater at 1823 N. Charles St., and the festival will serve as BIG's opening showcase at the new space.

Cavaiola recently talked about her own experiences with improv and what people can expect for Fringe Fest.

What was your first experience with improv?

My earliest improv memories were in high school when my best friend Sara and I played as shoes together in an acting class. I was hooked. ... When I first started doing improv in Baltimore about 10 years ago, I was intimidated by the talent in BIG, but I remember that my confidence grew as soon as I got the first laugh on stage. I may not like roller coasters or jumping from planes, but improv is my adrenaline rush.

What's your weirdest improv memory?

There are so many. Improv by its nature is super-weird and can produce some super strange results. [One] of my favorite weird moments would be the time my friend Thomas and I were performing as a duo and we brought his toy poodle on stage to reenact the opening sequence of “The Lion King.”

What have you learned from improv and what do you teach others with BIG?

I love the improv philosophy. True communication stems from the elements of improv: listen, agree and add. One of my favorite words is add — bring something to the party and contribute in all elements of my life. ... I want [my students] to learn to celebrate failure and to see that with big risk comes big payoff.

How is BIG involved with Charm City Fringe Festival and what can festival go-ers expect from you?

With the Fringe, our shows are sort of spread out, but we will have a show every day of the Fringe and they're hour-long shows and you're going to see the variety of our troops, depending on the time and the day that you're there. We have a lot of our house troops playing, like Population: 6 and Training for Prom, and then some of the project troupes are playing as well.

What do you love about improv?

I love love love teaching Intro to Improv because it's sort of like this magical experience that people have. Even adults, because you get told that its OK to play and I think a lot of adults are scared of play; they're scared of creativity and looking silly. So this is an opportunity to be told that it’s OK to do that in a safe environment.

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