Showcasing Students

I’m wishy washy about improv class showcases.

On the one hand, if the point of going through classes is to learn to do performance-ready-level improv, then it seems sadistic to make 101 students “put it up on its feet.”

But on the other, nothing informs an improviser like improvising and all it entails – collaborating to build something out of nothing in-the-moment before a live audience. And so practice in front of a live audience should be part of each course.

So the in-between place becomes preparing each class for a performance that showcases – in grand improv style – all that they learned in class, on top of everything they’ve learned before, within bounds that keep them from stumbling into unknown territory. 

Here are examples of how to do it…from 101 to 401… Continue reading

Four Corners video example

As a warm-up exercise or a short-form performance game, Four Corners is a fun way to explore two person scenes and subsequent beats.

Check out this wonderful example from The Coalition Theater‘s class showcase.  I am particularly fond of the players’ choice to enthusiastically agree and trust in the power of emotion alone when met with the suggestion of “Trump rally.”

Performers are Sheldon King, Cindy Nester, David Pratt and Britne Walker 

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Mirror, Action, Object an exercise in personal active stakes

Nothing bugs me more than a scene where two improvisers meet stage center, stare only at each other and talk only to and about each other.

I get it. Your stage partner is truly the only other active element on stage with you. But, c’mon, show some imagination.

The audience likes to see us interact with things we imagine. The audience loves to see us care about things we imagine. The audience f*#king adores when what we imagine makes us feel.

If you and/or the ensemble you’re in and/or the ensemble you coach are having the tendency to do centerstage talking heads scenes then this warm-up exercise might be right for you.
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Patterns and Games Montage

I am immensely proud of this show and the group that created it. It comes from The Coalition Theater’s Fall Patterns and Games Class.

In a Patterns and Games, success and failure hinged on the collective performance of the group. And…this class succeeded. Watch them all support each other through a performance that runs the gamut of games – rubric and organic, shorter and longer, lots of folks and few folks. The show is well paced, varying the use of moves from scene to scene.  Most importantly, as you can see, the group clearly had a lot of fun performing in it.  And the audience loved it. 

When improvisers follow each other, committing to taking the next step together, confident they’ll find whatever end together, the audience leans in, along for the ride. That’s improv as improv does best. Especially impressive given the size of the group, the level of collaboration shown here by a 301 class is alone worth the watch.  Enjoy!

Players are: Gerard Antoine, Sarah Berday-Sacks, Kevin Clatterbuck, Michael Farmer, Patrick Gaskill, Zachary Mann, Shannon Rodriguez, Hannah Rumsey, Max Senu-Oke, Geoff Stone, Vince Sunga, Carter Tait and Elliot Wegman

Be Dynamic: Sharpen Your Vectors

There’s more than one way to draw a straight line.

Keep Them Separated

Both scenes work in an improv context. No doubt. But I prefer the second iteration.

The second scene is more dynamic. Yes, both Bobs are altered by scene’s end and both scenes progress, but in the second scene Bob’s change is clearly delineated to establish a rhythm and to set expectations for heightening repetition with the audience.

It’s one of many improv lessons we can learn from The Clown.  Let’s learn more.
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