Now introducing: improvisation better known as improv. (clap, clap, clap)
Whether it be through a tv show like Whose Line is it Anyway?, a school drama class, or workshops, most people have heard the word improv being thrown around. If I were to define it in my own words, I would simply say it is the act of making things up as you go. Backstage defines it as “a form of live theater in which all aspects of the performance are made up on the spot.” My first introduction to improv was in my high school theater classes and we used to play games, often starting by forming a circle and then throwing 2 people in the middle with a given scenario. I always found it enjoyable, fun, and something that helped get me out of my shell, so when I found a class in my area, I jumped on it.
My first interaction with the Houston improv scene was through attending an intro class with Station Theatre and that was the first class I took since high school. If you are in the Houston area, you can find the class for free on Eventbrite. Attending also gets you free admission to the improv comedy show afterward which features different improv groups. I enjoyed the class immensely and what I took away from the experience is 5 reasons why anyone can find value in attending an improv session.
Pick Up a New Hobby
Hobbies are everywhere we look. Why? Because many of the activities that we love or don’t even know about can be considered a hobby, even improv. Sometimes it can take a little time to find a hobby you love enough to continuously participate and invest in, but a good place to start is introducing yourself to something you may have a mild interest in. To get started, just search for improv classes on Google to find a theater, workshop, or class in your area. Taking that first step to try something new is all you need. You don’t need any prior experience. Improv is an activity and skill that you can build on if you decide to invest in it so there is room to gain experience and expertise if you desire to do so. It’ll be a new skill to add to your repertoire.
Get Involved in the Community
Improv is most definitely a group activity. It is something you usually do with a group of people so that you can bounce off one another. A lot of community theatres offer improv classes and workshops and there are usually improv groups in different cities. Considering the ensemble aspect of improv, getting involved gives you the opportunity to meet new people and form connections and bonds with people who have a similar interest to you. Even if you don’t want to be on stage, you can find yourself helping with production, setting up shows, or even just attending performances. Plus, you get to learn how to adapt and communicate with others and we all know communication is huge no matter where you are.
Set Your Creativity on Fire
If you find yourself attending a class, one phrase that you’ll constantly hear is “yes, and.” “Yes, and” is all about being open and up for anything so that you are always there for your scene partners and they are always there for you. It makes you think creatively to ensure that you are constantly adding to the scene. Improv keeps you on your toes and it makes you think in new ways even when you feel like you can’t think. And sometimes that is the case. You don’t know what your partner or group is going to come up with so you say the first thing that comes to mind. There’s also the physical part, the actions that go along with what you are doing. As improvisers or improv actors or just someone looking to try it out, you along with your scene partners are the sole forces driving the scene. Keep your mind open, don’t say something just with the intent to get laughs, and don’t take yourself too seriously. You’ll do fine.
Challenge Your Comfort Zone
Considering how fast-paced improv can be and just the performative nature of it, trying a class for the first time can be a bit intimidating, but it’s also so rewarding. In the class I attended, we all thought it was more challenging than we expected it to be and you can tell we were thinking a bit more than we needed to. Improv allows you to experience so much and you have to put yourself out there in different ways, from meeting new people to performing in front of others. You are forced to speak up and be in the moment. It can be a lot at first but it can also be really fun and beneficial. I know theater as a whole has helped me with my anxiety and improv can do the same.
Have you attended an improv class or do you want to attend one? How was your experience if you are familiar with improv? Share in the comments!
Photo by cottonbro studio