Here is the second installment from the new weekly feature In Praise Of. This week’s entry comes from Karen Jane DeWitt, improviser and owner of Scissortail Savories and Sweets. Karen has composed a lovely love/goodbye letter to Kayla Lane Freeman, who just left Austin to move to the mecca of improv, Chicago. One three-namer celebrates another. Enjoy!
Dear Kayla Lane “Saaaaame Personnnnn” Freeman,
By now you have stuffed all of your belongings into your purple, sunflower-donned Kermit car and bounced off into the sunset. Right now someone is probably barreling down the highway next to you, looking over, pointing and saying, “Who’s that? Who would drive a car like that? What is she doing? Who is that girl?”
You’re speeding off to the windy city to do what many people are too afraid to do: to dive head first into the deep unknown. Sure, you’ve got several dozen unanswered job applications in the queue, you’ve got a tiny bedroom waiting for you, and you’ve got some goals written in your journal. But for the most part, the future is wide open. Anything could happen!
I remember when we first met. I had just finished an improv show and was milling about in the Hideout coffee shop. You came over and exclaimed something like, “Hi, I’m Kayla! This is probably going to sound weird and you probably get this all the time and I know you don’t know me but I just saw you perform and I think you’re great!” and continued to gush. Your energy and enthusiasm was like a shot of adrenaline. You were so friendly and personable. You left me wondering, who is that girl?
Just a few short months later you were added to Local Genius Society. It seems like it should have been a hard decision to let a brand new performer – a student, an unknown, a wildcard – into our troupe, but there was really no contest. Your enthusiasm and ability to roll with whatever we threw you were so impressive. You weren’t shy, you had no reservations, and you were just awesome to be around. There was a feeling that you were about to blow up as an improvisor and we wanted you to be OURS!
We were not wrong!
There was only so long that Local Genius Society could contain you and I don’t begrudge you that. You are a free freaking spirit, Kayla Lane. Once we became close friends it was clear that you were hungry for something more, something unknown, something big, something great.
You want to experience everything! And it’s not enough just to experience things, you want to be good at them! And it’s not enough just to be good at things, you want others to be good at them too!
That not only applies to improv but also to your other interests: writing, self-reflection, yoga, film, travel, relationships and so many others. You want to be fully expressed and you want the same for others. This outlook on life –while it cannot safeguard you from the occasional failure, disappointment, and hardship—makes the world a better place to live, a place where the people around you become geniuses and poets, a place of possibility.
When times are hard, know that you are not alone. You have me, you have a community of hundreds here in Austin, and you will very soon have a whole new family of friends in Chicago. I do not worry for a second that people will love you as long as you keep loving people.
Here’s the part where I talk about your improv. When I’m onstage with you and I look into your eyes, I see FIRE. There is so much passion behind those eyes that it can be startling at times. I can almost see the gears in your head turning. You’re latching on to themes, words, puns, emotions, body language; every tiny bit of energy on that stage you seem to be absorbing and processing. You’re opening up the pantry and cooking a gourmet meal with what’s in there. You’re building sandcastle mansions and letting the waves sweep them back into the sea. Doing improv with you is like tripping on acid in the woods. When we come off the stage I often can’t believe what we just did together. You make me a better performer. I can’t wait to do more improv together. Any stage. Any city. Anytime.
I can clearly imagine a time when we are old ladies, perhaps living far away from each other. Someone will come across a photo of us and ask, “Who’s that? Who is she? Who is that girl?” And I will be proud to answer the question.
I love you so much,
Karen Jane “Saaaaame Personnnnn” DeWitt