Residents at The Palace discover their skills at The Palace at Coral Gables’ improv workshop. Pictured left to right are Margaret Steele, Mike Berezin, Susan Siberman and Chris Heiberger.

Residents at The Palace, Coral Gables, FL, are expressing themselves and letting their creativity flow.

Once a week, an improv class is offered to residents by Chris Heiberger from Hashtag Comedy Co. based in Columbus, OH. 

“Improv is an art form that makes something out of nothing,” said Heiberger. “We gear the classes to having fun while offering life skills that are beneficial for everyone.”

Currently, about eight to 10 residents have been partaking in the class offered once a week on Zoom, and the average age of participants is 87 years old. Each class consists of structure, exercises and teamwork. As the classes went on, Heiberger noted that the residents gained confidence and stage presence. 

The classes started with participants being taught the importance of listening to their gut and listening actively. They advanced to scene building, creating characters and interacting with one another. 

Heiberger noted that it has been an interesting experience teaching a group of people who live in the same facility and see each other on a regular basis. Recently, he even made a surprise visit to The Palace to see his students. While he was impressed with their technological navigational skills on Zoom, he was thrilled to actually interact with them face to face and get to know them more. 

“We’re always seeking opportunities for residents to be intellectually challenged and have fun,” said Pamela Parker, social director. “The pandemic made us more reliant on Zoom and offering the workshop classes was a perfect fit. Initially, some residents were skeptical, but as soon as they tried the class they were hooked.”

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