Improv Night at Comedy Sportz – A mother’s tale

What does improv theatre have to do with speech/language and cognitive treatment?

I asked myself that question when my daughter and I got the email inviting us to participate in a BIC-NW sponsored improv workshop and performance at Comedy Sportz in Portland. The activities sounded intriguing to both of us, so we decided to find out the connection between improvisational theatre activities and speech/language and cognitive treatment.

The workshop was skillfully led by Ruth Jenkins, a speech/language pathologist and co-owner of Comedy Sportz in Portland. The workshop activities were designed to assist all participants in developing social communication skills, listening/reasoning/memory, and speech/word finding. As a parent, I was a little hesitant in the beginning and wondered what the workshop activities would involve. It didn’t take long though to see that all of us were engaged in activities that could help us develop those skills. As someone who is 60+ years old, I was particularly interested in the listening/reasoning/memory as well as the speech/word finding activities. We had fun while being focused, for example, on comprehension and cognition activities involving listening, direction following, selective attention, alternating attention, and short-term memory.

After the workshop, we enjoyed pizza and then attended the Comedy Sportz improv theatre performance. While enjoying  improv theatre for the first time, I then made the connection between our workshop activities and the skills the performers had honed very skillfully. Thanks, BIC-NW for sponsoring such an enjoyable learning activity and introducing us to improv theatre. Please sign me up for the next activity!

Contributed by:
Chris Ward (Parent of Laura Southers, TBI Survivor)


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Joan Miller, founding Board Secretary of BIRRDsong is a passionate victim advocate for Oregon Impact and brain injured people, and a frequent speaker in schools and on victim impact panels.

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