Terry Noel, associate professor in the Management and Quantitative Methods Department in the College of Business, is a celebrity of sorts. Noel participates regularly in a Bloomington improvisation troupe, Improv Attack!
Having originated with Theaters Cool, Noel’s troupe performs a 30-40 minute show every Friday at 8:30 p.m. at the Bistro. He also participates in corporate-sponsored workshops, including a past production for an Illinois State Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology workshop.
One day, Noel was walking down the street to get coffee and saw an advertisement for TheatresCool, featuring group founder Kimberly Harris. Harris created TheatresCool in Bloomington to be a training ground where the art of acting and improv could be explored and developed by students of all ages and backgrounds. Students ranged from those working in the profession to those wanting to enhance their creativity, self-esteem, musicality, or performance and acting skills.
Noel had heard that corporations were using improv in their trainings, so he thought gaining some information might be useful to pass on to his students in the entrepreneurship classes he teaches, not only for their speeches but for growing their managerial skills. He said he was warned that in visiting a class, he might be asked to participate. And participate he did!
After that first class, Noel learned that improv was not just the ticket for his students, but also that he had found a new hobby for himself.
The troupe consists of seven members, but they are hoping to grow to about 10 members. They began getting together for fun once a week in a rehearsal space at the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts. The troupe eventually opened their rehearsals to the public once a month and then started doing the weekly gig they have now.
Improvisation, or improv, is defined as the art or act of improvising, or of composing, uttering, executing, or arranging anything without previous preparation. Noel describes improv as basically saying what comes to mind. “It involves listening very closely to your partner, acknowledging their statement, but then forming a conclusion with a common goal,” Noel said. Improv helps foster creativity for corporate teams and teaches adaptivity and listening skills, he said.