Shanan Custer - Writer, Actor, Director

Objectives: Shanan Custer has spent many years in theater as both an actor, a writer, and director and spent many years with the comedy theater, Brave New Workshop. Being an improviser, a person who can perform something “on the fly” (with little to no preparation), has made Custer a better writer. It allows her to keep momentum and say “yes” to herself, as she views it as a scene with herself. “Improve is disposable” – if something doesn’t go right, it’s ok, move on, and grow from the experience. In this activity, you will create your own improve performance with a partner and work together to create your own improvised story.

Tools/Resources: MN Original video clip, pen, paper.


  1. Watch the segment and discuss:

    a. Why do you think improvisation has made Shanan Custer a better writer?

    b. Why would “failing faster” be an important lesson to learn?

    c. How does improve differ from other forms of theater?

  2. Brainstorm various topics that could be a good starting point for an improvised skit with a partner
  3. Working with a partner, compare your brainstormed topics and choose 1 – 2 to perform

    a. Think of simple scenarios

    b. Take turn, each partner performs or retells one to two sentences in the story/topic

    c. Sample story starters…

    i. “Once upon a time…”

    ii. “My first day of school was crazy!”

    iii. “One dark and stormy night…”

  4. If necessary, write notes down to remember the basic idea of your story – however, do not write down specifically what each person should say or do (overarching idea, not details)
  5. Share your performance to others
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