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The Best Life Coach: Theater

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Student Author Jennifer Lauren Hamad

Theater arts is a ubiquitous passion of mine that I have carried with me since elementary school. In fact, my love for the art inspired me to live by the concept of improvisation- risk taking, having spontaneity, and living in the spur of the moment. So, when I had the opportunity to take TAPS 103, an introductory improvisation course, during my Spring quarter of my freshman year, I knew it was an opportunity I could not miss. Little did I know, I would learn more than just theatrical improv in this course but would walk away with invaluable lessons of life. 

For two hours, three times a week, I would enter a transformative learning environment that would soon become a second home for me and the rest of my peers. Each class we were told to seek out and celebrate failure, say ‘yes’ to everything, accept one’s first thoughts, and be obvious and ordinary rather than attempting to be original while onstage. At first, these lessons seemed counterintuitive- I had not realized, just yet, that being ordinary would create something extraordinary and that a mind ridden of self-consciousness is a creativity machine. 

I quickly discovered that the key to mastering improvisation was not attempting to master it at all. Only when I let myself be completely spontaneous, free, and fearless of embarrassment did my creativity begin to roam onstage. I began to chase the uncomfortable and unknown that once felt so daunting in scenes, and, soon, my peers and I were crafting entertaining improv scenes that left audiences rolling in laughter, gasping in surprise, or sitting on the edge of their seats in anticipation for every line. Realizing the power of an uninhibited creative mind was an incredibly liberating experience and an unforgettable moment of my freshman year. It was in this theater class that I learned to live freely, and, in the process, fail triumphantly and “dare greatly,” as Theodore Roosevelt once said. 

During your time at Stanford, I encourage you to “be spontaneous” and take a course that is outside of your major and challenges and excites you in news ways; the lessons you learn might just be something you carry for the rest of your life. 

Warm regards,


Jennifer Lauren Hamad

Class of 2025

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