I remember when I first started at iO West and relayed to my grandmother back home that I had begun studying improv. She kind of pretended to understand what I was talking about but wanted to know why it was necessary to take improv classes after receiving such extensive (and expensive) performance training already.
She inquired “How and why do you learn and practice being spontaneous?”
How and why, indeed?!
Rehearsing being spontaneous is certainly an interesting concept, and until you really immerse yourself in the practice you won’t readily be able to answer such questions.
Suffice it to say that practicing improv is a little like practicing being yourself – trusting yourself and not judging yourself, and trusting and not judging your friends.
Improvisation is all about truth, and because truth is odder than fiction, it is also, quite often, much more hilarious.
Looking at a Level 1 class, the first thing you’ll learn is to trust your instincts. That little voice in your head that censors you in polite society has no place in Level 1.
The improv classroom is a place where whatever you have to say, you should say it immediately, and you should say it loud.
That’s hard for a lot of people. The mere act of being in front of people and blurting out whatever bonehead, boring or silly thing comes to mind actually takes practice.
Improvisers practice speaking sans censorship, because from day one we are told no, in some capacity or another, and "no" is one of the few dirty words in improv.
The idea of saying yes may be familiar to some. It may sound like a logical theory, but to actually say yes on stage consistently takes practice in a supportive environment.
Going back to Gram and her question “Why improv?”
While learning how to channel someone else can be easier psychologically than just being ourselves, ultimately it is ourselves we have to more fully become.
So whether you’re an improviser who has taken some time off to channel Chekhov or you are new to the practice of improv, hop on over to http://west.ioimprov.com/class-schedule/upcoming to find a class that fits your schedule. The new session starts in about week.
The only thing you have to lose is that nagging sense of doubt and that pesky habit of saying no to yourself and others.