Zoom In On Hey Everybody

“Hey, Everybody,” we say as our initiation in some form. Maybe it’s “Team, take a knee,” “Soldiers. Attention!,” or the Zhubin Parang special, “People, people, [important person] is ready for your questions.”

The potential for trouble in a “Hey Everybody, get out here” initiation is high. Players may rush out on stage to support the initiation with disparate reactions that then battle for dominance; chaos ensues and awkwardness follows. Or, though players may rush out on stage to support the initiation, they await to take their cues from the initiator who becomes the facilitator in a stiff and slow series of interactions that typically revolves more around thinking and problem solving than feeling.  Hey Everybody game mechanics allow a group to quickly build a focused direction out of disparate parts.

The Keys to success following a “Hey Everybody” initiation are:

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Zoom In On Organic Games

Students were taught the 4 Key Lessons for building collaborative improv games on Day One. In subsequent weeks focused one of 4 rubric group games designed to explore the power of each of those key lessons.

At the end of the day – which really is the class showcase – the audience isn’t looking to see a perfectly executed To The Ether game. They don’t know what the hell that is. The rubrics are tools for teaching the players’ tools. All the audience cares about is watching players collaborate in-the-moment to build something together. Players need to follow the ensemble’s moves wherever they go; this is about an ensemble playing their games, not mine.

So now it’s time to put all that’s been learned together in service of Organic Group Games.

Any questions?

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New Year, New Curriculum

It’s 2020, my friends. And my curriculum needed to get with the times. Goodbye, Dukes Of Hazzard. Goodbye, s/he, his/her, him/her, etc.

2020 brings new exercises, new insights, and new clarifications for teaching.

Links have been updated on the Class Materials page, but they’re also here. Enjoy!

Intro to Improv Curriculum 2020 (PDF)
Character & Relationship Curriculum 2020 (PDF)
Patterns & Games Curriculum 2020 (PDF)
Long Form Performance Curriculum 2020 (PDF)
Teachers Best Practices 2020 (PDF)

Big “THANK YOU” to those who submitted feedback on the site through the pop-up survey. It’s not super aesthetically pleasing” – I hear you. I have big hopes for this site’s redesign and at least a little hope of getting that redesign done this year. First step: Updating the Curriculum. Check!

Stay tuned for more!

Objectives & Feedback: a teachers’ training

Watch an improv teacher adroitly introduce an objective to students, explain an exercise they’ll do in service of that objective, provide side-coaching, and wrap it all up in the end.

Kathryn Schmidt’s Topnotch Teaching

The clip comes from a Teacher & Coach Training Session at The Coalition Theater. Want to learn what they learned? Want to lead a similar session of your own?

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My 200th Post: Improv & Me

I love improv and believe (when my heart and head are in it) that I’m good at it, too.  Here are some other things I love and believe myself to be good at.  They share some skills with improvisation.  Am I good at improv because I am good at these things, or am I good at these things because I’m good at improv?  Doesn’t matter; who cares.

What’s fun is thinking about how the skills involved in these activities translate into being good at improv.  Enjoy!

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“I was just…” exercising for active emotions

We want to fill our blank stages with imagined environment. We want to engage physically in that environment to help visualize the imagined. And – most importantly – we want to be emotionally affected by where we are and what we’re doing. That’s Improv As Improv Does Best.

Our fellow player(s) and how they emotionally affect our characters is important. But engaging heir scene partner is not where improvisers struggle. One’s scene partner is actually active on stage – his/her presence doesn’t have to be imagined – so too often players give 100% of their attention on their partner and ignore physically engaging the environment.

Like the “We gotta…” and “That’s my…” initiation exercises, the “I was just…” drill helps connect emotion to active endowments.

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“That’s my…” exercise for active emotions

Feeling about active endowments. That’s Improv As Improv Does Best.

It ain’t easy. That balance between making up imagined details and committing to feeling about imagined details is tough to manage. Already we’re trying to see our world’s details instead of thinking up details, but we also have to care about those details in-the-moment.

Like the “We gotta…” and “I was just…” initiation exercises, the “That’s my…” drill helps connect emotion to active endowments.

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