Improv @ USF's Hannah Prince

 

Some say laughter is the best medicine. If that’s true, University of South Florida senior, Hannah Prince, could save lives. As president of Improv @ USF, she helps teach interested students the art of improvisation. 

 
Prince, a 21-year-old communication and psychology major, learned the art of improv from Kari Goetz, a graduate student at USF. She went on to help found Improv @ USF and the improv troupe Post Dinner Conversation.
 
Prince, who grew up in Merritt Island, Florida, is all smiles following the USF Improv Festival on Oct. 29 in the Marshall Student Center. In a black and white hounds tooth print dress, maroon tights and a black cardigan, she is poised with pixie-like features. 
 
At first glance, you wouldn’t peg her for a spontaneous performer. However, once she gets to talking, her passion for improv is evident. When asked what she loves about it, she lets out an excited, “Oh my God!” with a wide grin. Her piercing blue eyes look up to the ceiling, as if searching for just the right way to describe her feelings on performance.
 
“I feel like a better person. That probably sounds really weird, but we get to teach improv, not just through theater and performance but also using communication theory. We teach our members how to present themselves, perform and be more comfortable being spontaneous. We just try to bring joy and laughter,” said Prince.
 
 
“She listens better than most and she says exactly what people need to hear. At the same time, she is hilarious and silly and makes me laugh on a daily basis,” said Sara Savitz, a sophomore majoring in computer engineering.
 
Savitz, an officer of Improv @ USF and member of Post Dinner Conversation, thinks of Prince as big sister. 
 
“I first met Hannah when I joined Improv @ USF. When I became a more active and dedicated member, she upgraded me to an officer position in the club. I also decided to join Post Dinner Conversation. Ever since, we have been very close and we share a lot of discussion on both improv and life. She's a very hard worker and is dedicated to everything she does, including the people in her life. It would be a shame not to have her as a friend,” said Savitz.
 
Despite the inherent silliness of improvisation, there are times when Prince finds that life and stress can get in the way of what could otherwise be a great performance. She does, however, have ways of combatting that.
 
“If I’m feeling angry or emotional, it can be really hard. Our responsibility is to adapt on stage, so I always just try not to take myself too seriously. There have been times when I’ve had to push myself really hard in order to adapt, but those times have actually been really therapeutic. It’s nice, since you usually have a partner to work with. You always want to make your partner look good. It’s about trust and laughter,” she said.
 
Daniel Lattimore, a 22-year-old majoring in biomedical sciences and psychology can speak to the naturally free spirited nature of improv and Prince. “One time a song played in the performance lab and we both just danced so freely but it looked like something choreographed,” said Lattimore, who lived in the same residence hall as Prince during his sophomore year. 
 
After graduation, Prince hopes, not only to continue to develop talent in the Tampa Bay area, but also to bring the improv community to Tampa. “I always thought, maybe I’ll go join [Chicago-based improv company] Second City or [Los Angeles-based improv company] Groundlings, but I think that I really want to teach,” said Prince, “I’ve been looking at graduate programs in communication and performance studies. I don’t just want to develop great improvisers so we can then send them off to the troupes in bigger cities. I really want to establish a community of great performers here in Tampa.” 
 
Prince has already garnered some pretty impressive attention in the Tampa area. She was recently featured as part of the “25 Under 25” in Creative Loafing’s Fall Arts Preview.  “I guess someone nominated me, I still don’t know who. I thought maybe they’d quote me or something like that, but then I got a call from David Warner [Editor-in-Chief of Creative Loafing] and he told me that he loved the photo that I took for the piece and that he actually wanted to put me on the cover,” said Prince, “Some of us from the issue also got to go on Channel 10 News, so I did that too. It was really exciting. I mostly just attribute it to luck and improvising.”