From an early age, senior Douglas (D.J.) Kantner developed an interest in theater arts.
“Back when I was six or seven, I was really big into movies and I realized you could take acting classes,” Kantner said. “The more and more I took acting classes, the better I got and so I wanted to be involved in theater. I ended up coming to Bear Creek and got involved in shows.”
Kantner has been involved in theater at Bear Creek for four years and has performed in about 10 plays, including “Little Shop of Horrors,” “Midsummer’s Night Dream,” and “Upstream.”
In addition to theater, Kanter has been in ComedySportz – a short form improvisation organization that plays different types of games that focus on different exercises and techniques for actors – since his junior year.
Inspired by an alumnus’s senior project and wanting to find out how improvisation affects an actor’s work, Kantner decided to do his senior project on how actors benefit from improvisational skills.
“I [believe] the benefits of improv are that it helps an actor really delve deep into the scene, helps them think quickly on their feet, and helps them adapt to random situations,” Kantner said. “Improv really benefits an actor because it helps them establish a scene a lot more clearly and they really delve a lot deeper into it. It just makes you a better actor overall.”
As coach, Kantner has seen an improvement in many players.
“All these players are really putting in a lot of work, trying to be the best that they can possibly be,” Kantner said. “I’ve seen people come in mediocre and now they’re fantastic.”
The Bear Creek ComedySportz players have been doing well competitively.
“There’s a lot of back and forth going on and a lot of commitment to all the scenes in general,” Kantner said.
The team has played Lodi and Tokay so far. Although there is a panel of judges who score each round, the home team always wins.
Kantner says he has grown as an actor from doing his senior project.
“Last year, I came in and I think I was decent at improv,” Kantner said. “This year, being a coach and a player has helped me become a better actor.”
Kantner says his senior project has helped reinforce his dreams of pursuing a career in theater arts. He plans to attend Southern Oregon University to major in theater arts in the fall.