Breaking Down Walls, Between and Within
By Monica Pierce
Photos by Emma Thompson
Initially, improv was just a way for Sean Hancock to get his acting fix. As a young performer, he was energized by the laughter and applause from the audience. But when he moved from Idaho to Los Angeles and was asked to teach with Monkey Butler Comedy, teaching improv gave Hancock a whole new appreciation for the artform. He was inspired watching his students work through personal challenges and was mesmerized by the way improv broke down walls between people, and within them. Hancock’s love for improv evolved from making people laugh to changing people’s lives.
Resembling the improv practice of “Yes, and…” where the performer is challenged to build off of a foundational story and make it their own, Hancock’s early career was a series of professional opportunities that he hadn’t expected. Hancock said “Yes, and…” to these opportunities, such as being asked to start an improv theater in England then participate in an internship program in Spain where, as luck – or fate – would have it, Hancock met his wife, Colleen.
Through his “Yes, and…” professional journey, Hancock has traveled the world teaching and performing in over 10 countries including Edinburgh, Scotland at the world’s largest performance arts festival, The Fringe Festival.
In 2012, the couple returned to Idaho and established Recycled Minds Comedy (RMC), located in Garden City. With a mission to “bring joy and transformation to people, using the principles of improv as a catalyst for creativity and community”, RMC offers three services:
- Classes and Workshops
The objective of the classes and workshops is to “cultivate joy, freedom, discovery and childlikeness, while being in a safe space to fail gloriously, learn and win.” Hancock says most students are individuals who have reached a new phase in their life, such as people who are new to the area and looking to meet some friendly faces, professionals looking to develop a skill or trait like public speaking or confidence, or empty-nesters and retirees who want to revisit a passion they set aside years ago.
Hancock describes the importance for the teacher and students themselves to understand why they have chosen to be there, so the entire group can support and encourage each other to reach their goals.
Fall classes start the week of September 9th, with different levels and programs available to suit the interests of all students.
2. Public Performances
Featuring RMC staff, students, and other local performers, these family-friendly shows are a great way to experience the joy of improv first hand!
The next performance is September 14th and kicks-off a month of Harry Potter-themed improv shows!
3. Corporate Learning and Entertainment
Leveraging improv principles such as thinking outside the box, active listening, elevating others, building confidence, and improved communication, Hancock helps transform businesses and teams of all shapes and sizes who want to increase their professional and personal influence.
“Many of us spend more time with our co-workers than we do our families,” observes Hancock. “I want people to connect as individuals – to care about the person to their right and to their left. Really, we use improv to foster humor and humanity in the workplace.”
From team-building offsites to holiday parties, the unique improv experience is a great activity for any organization.
RMC’s headquarters – lovingly referred to as “The Creative Space” – is on 34th Street, which is becoming the new ‘it’ spot for creativity. With a state-of-the-art theater for performances, the venue also houses several classrooms and “creative spaces” that are available for rent for a multitude of uses.
For staunch improv fans, Hancock also hosts a podcast called “The Improv Lifestyle” where he shares how the joy-filled principles of improv can be applied in our everyday lives.
Having already made such an impact on the world of Improv, the Hancocks are now taking on the greatest role of their lives: parenthood. The two welcomed their first child, Grayson Winfield Hancock, on August 6th. Young Grayson will undoubtedly benefit from the teachings of his parents and the supportive community they have built here in the Treasure Valley.
To learn more about Recycled Minds Comedy, sign up for classes, buy tickets for performances, or inquire about corporate events or space rental, visit www.recycledmindscomedy.com.