Friday, November 11, 2011
It's interesting starting at the very beginning, when you have been doing something for so long. It has been said that through practice a task becomes routine and once it becomes routine it is ready to arrive at beautiful.
When I lived in Buffalo, I was a bigshot improviser in a few different groups. In NYC, while I focused more on voiceover and my 9-5 job, I stayed connected to improv by taking classes. When I got to Los Angeles, which is really the Holy Grail of improvising, I discovered how little I actually knew.
My teacher at the Wednesday night drop-in "Work Out" class mentioned that in improvisation if you think you don't have to work and grow anymore, you find yourself in real trouble. You can always keep growing and discovering new things about yourself and your performances.
iO West is a veritable buffet offering classes, workshops and incredible shows.
I learned about IO West through my friend Tara. She raved about it, and since I missed registration, I decided to start my studies at iO West with the drop-in Wednesday night Work Out class.
With regard to iO West's signature Harold, I had heard of him, but I had never been formally introduced. I was excited but nervous to meet his acquaintance.
I arrived at the Wednesday Work Out class with my friend Beverly. She's a fellow actress, 20 years my senior, who has been in mostly musicals and has also been a teacher for a long time. She and I are quirky characters who met during a play about the circus.
She has had no formal improvisational training, but she and I both have our degrees in musical theatre.
What I like about drop-in Wednesday Work Out class is that it includes a mixture of people. You get to be a sort of mentor to those who are new to improv, but you get to learn so much from the veterans who are there to return to basics.
Our first assignment was to create a scene in a fake play. Mine was "Death at Midnight." For my emotional highpoint I strive for the last time to get help during a snow storm, and my little sister gives me a sandwich with mayonnaise.
It's a comfort and we share a tender moment.
It is pretty incredible the amount of trust you must have when improvising, especially in a drop-in class when you have just met your scene partner a few moments before.
So many questions go through your mind: Am I allowed to touch them? Will they listen? Will I listen?
In a play you have months of rehearsal and the chance to get to know your partners.
Yet, in improv, despite not knowing my partners well, I have had some of my best moments on stage.
After last Wednesday's Work Out class, Beverly and I decided to see Wednesday night Harolds, which I HIGHLY recommend.
Honestly, if you have time after the Wednesday Work Out class, it's a fantastic way to see what you just learned put into play on stage.
The games you play and lessons you learn you can pick out while watching the shows.
The Lottery is a show that pairs beginning students with seasoned improvisers. What a treat!
In addition to the Lottery, we experienced Hot Toddy and Tatanka, two Harold teams, each inspired by basic suggestions such as "time" and "gum."
Each team created an interesting 30-minute show where all the scenes gelled together to create a cohesive and compelling whole.
In one of the shows there are adopted sisters vying for the love of a math genius who is more focused on his numbers than he is the ladies.
And there is a couple who travels the world to get away from each other and sings songs from Rent. But somehow it all makes sense and you would swear someone wrote it.
They have all learned the rules of improv (or the guiding principles) so well that seamless cohesion has become their routine.
And, like I said, when a task becomes routine, it is ready for beautiful.
- Kate Sorice