Yes, and

On my mind

This week I finished up two months of improv classes at the Washington Improv Theater. The last time I took an improv class was four years ago in San Francisco, before I moved to D.C. and I had been itching to get back into it. The goofiness, chaotic energy, and pure skill of creating unusual characters and dynamic scenes just from a one word suggestion—is there anything more exciting? I was part of an improv troupe in middle school. In high school, I would watch Whose Line Is It Anyway? in awe and devoured all things SNL, Improv Everywhere, Second City and Upright Citizens Brigade. It was only a matter of time until I returned to the stage.

The focus of the improv class I took was on scene work, which meant learning how to quickly build scenes that involve characters with defined relationships, establishing an emotional stake, and heightening those emotions to create entertaining conflict. I learned so much through the class of how to think more quickly, dramatize my characters and be a stronger player in my scenes. Some of the random characters I played including an overzealous spelling-bee mom training her grumpy daughter for the finals, Mrs. Peacock in a Clue murder-mystery inspired scene, an annoying girl who got cast as Ariel’s understudy in The Little Mermaid, and a rich old grandma who wants to buy art from a granddaughter who hates her.

Unexpectedly, I found so much of the instruction to help me with my writer’s block. There were numerous classes that I’d walk out of and realize why a certain character in my novel felt flat or a particular scene I wrote just wasn’t interesting enough. It goes to show that you can be “writing,” even when you’re not writing. 

I am very much in a “Yes, and” stage in my life. I’m making it all up as I go and have no idea what’s next. It’s an exhilarating and scary exercise in letting go of control and accepting what comes your way. Signing up for an improv class and starting this newsletter quite suddenly are just a few things I decided to do just because and so far, it’s been worth it. While I’m happy to have my Monday nights back, I’m grateful for the time I gave myself to be silly through improv and invest in something I’m passionate about. If you’ve been thinking about trying something new or have started doing an activity you enjoy that isn’t work-related, tell me about it!

What I’m noting

  • The 1619 Project //  This is a new project spearheaded by Nikole Hannah-Jones  of the New York Times Magazine with essays, literary work, photography and graphics that explore the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. “It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding of 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.” 

  • She Called Out Priyanka Chopra at BeautyCon, And It Went Viral // Check out this interview with beauty influencer Ayesha Malik who called out Priyanka Chopra for her tweet supporting the Indian armed forces despite being a UNICEF peace ambassador. “I may have made a fool of myself two days ago, being emotional in front of millions. But I brought awareness to Kashmir and that’s all that matters to me.”

  • Sahan Journal // Check out the only 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that’s dedicated to providing authentic news reporting for and about immigrants and refugees in Minnesota.

  • ‘They want to erase us.’ California Uighurs fear for family members in China // A United Nations committee estimated last year that about 1 million Muslims — mostly ethnic Uighurs but also other minorities — in the autonomous Xinjiang territory were being “held incommunicado” without “being charged or tried, under the pretext of countering terrorism and religious extremism.” Hear from Uighurs living in Southern California about their memories and experiences.

What you’re noting

  • 11 Reasons Why Ramy Doesn’t Deserve a Second Season // Did you watch the first season of Hulu’s Ramy? I only watched half the season, partly because I don’t have Hulu but also because I got too lazy/busy to bother finishing the rest of it. But I’m totally here for all the discourse around the show. Aisha J. sent in this article and said: “This piece offers a critical lens on the politics of representation and the conversations surrounding the first season of Ramy.

That’s it for me. Tomorrow, I’ll be performing in my class showcase and next Wednesday night in WIT’s Improva Palooza, so wish me luck! 

Have a good weekend!

-Nesima

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