Sharon Landon, core Red Room volunteer, has been capitalizing on her theater background lately by launching a series of classes in improvisational theater (Improv) for the Stage Time and Juice community.
When we asked her to share her impressions of teaching improv to the kids so far, she responded with the following, in which she writes as if one of her own students!
So, this is my first time taking an Improv class…Ever! My mom told me it would be fun and that I’d meet new people and learn how to communicate better and think quicker on my feet. What does that even mean? What is Improv anyway? I heard it’s kind of like acting but I don’t know how to act. What are we supposed to do?
Oh, great, it looks like those two guys know each other. I don’t know Anybody here!! I wish my friend could have come then I wouldn’t feel so nervous. Oh, no! The teacher is starting the class. I hope I don’t make a fool out of myself in front of everyone.
Ok, so we did some warm-up exercises. I don’t know about the “Big Face, Little Face” thing…Sharon was really getting into it. If she doesn’t mind looking silly, I guess it’s ok. I liked the “Space Walk” one though. We had to pretend like we were walking in a big huge typhoon, then like a two-year-old kid, then like we were wearing super tight jeans and a bunch of other stuff. Everyone was laughing – maybe I’ll be ok after all.
After the “Name Game” I thought I knew everyone’s name. Whew! But then when we played “Mr. Hit”, and things got complicated again. But Fun!!
Then we had to learn how to keep a beat (like in music) at the same time we were speaking and doing 2 different actions AND teaching them to another person. At the Same Time. At least I wasn’t the only one! Then “Zip, Zap, Zop!” for concentration + quick reflexes + how team work.
When Sharon called “Break time”, I was like “Wow, already?”
I still didn’t know anybody real well, but I felt more comfortable during break. I guess it was because we had lots of laughs together. And no one seemed to care if I looked silly. Everybody looked silly!
After the break, we started with the word games. First, Categories. I could not believe how many different boys’ or girls’ names there are. And how many things are actually blue. Or round. It wasn’t as easy as it might seem because we couldn’t hesitate or repeat anything. Then there was “Word Ball”. One person has to “throw” a word – with their voice – to another person and that person had to “throw” a related word to someone else and so on. Like I threw “Cat” and that person threw “Cuddly” (they could have also thrown “Meow” or “Fur”…Hey, I’m getting good at this!). We had to be creative without No Time to Think. Spontaneous! (There’s a good word 😉
Then we made up stories one word at a time. So, at the start, nobody knew what the story would be about or how it was going to end or Anything! Some of them were silly, sad or completely crazy. Like Sharon said: we had to really listen to what each person said if we were going to create a story that – at least sort of – made sense.
Before I knew it, class was over. Mom was right. It was cool to meet some new kids and hang out for a couple of hours. Improv is pretty interesting. It’s…I don’t know…Different. Sharon said it takes more classes to develop Improv skills that we could use in our daily life. It would be great if I could just talk to people without being so afraid of what they might think.
Hmmm…I wonder when the next class is?