Curriculum

$15 Intro to Improv Workshop

Never taken an improv class before?  Well now is your chance to try it out with experienced BIG instructors!  This introductory workshop is designed to give potential students an opportunity to experience what a class is like before committing to a full course. Through simple, fun and supportive games, participants will explore basic concepts like playfulness, listening and agreement – all in a safe and comfortable group setting geared specifically toward those who are new to improv. Space is limited, so please sign up ahead of time to secure your spot. For adults 18+.

Level 101: Introduction to Improvisation

Students will explore the fundamental principles of improvisation through exercises in agreement, commitment, spontaneity, and listening. No prior performance or improv experience are necessary. Classes build upon one another, allowing novice improvisers to grow and be challenged at a comfortable rate.  Sessions are designed so students will build a strong foundation as a confident performer. You will amaze yourself with your newfound skills at the last class performance in front of your friends and family!

Level 201: Introduction to Longform Improv

Now apply what you’ve learned in Level 101 to create long form scenes. This class is heavy on exercises in the fundamental structural components of long form: scene work, group games, patterns, offers, and relationships. Students will emerge from Level 201 with the tools necessary to stage longer pieces with recurring themes and rich characters. Prerequisite: Level 101. 

Level 301: Creating Characters

Make good scenes great with the right kind of characters. A character without consistency is a crazy person. A character without action is just a silly voice. And a character without reaction is a like playing with a wall! This class will push deeper into point of view and behavioral games in order to create exciting, believable and helpful characters. You’ll learn more advanced techniques for telling stories and initiating, maintaining, and enriching scenes. Prerequisite: Level 101 and 201.

Level 302: Advanced Short Form Improv

You’ve learned the basics, now dive into the magical world of short form improv. Students will focus on performance techniques and game theory. Students will engage in a variety of short form formats including guessing, gimmick, firing line, audience participation, gibberish, and more. Last class is a performance for friends and family. Prerequisite: Level 101 and 201.

Level 303: Movement for the Improviser

Tired of “talking heads” in your improv scenes?  Theatre relies on physical motion of the performers to convey the story. In this class, performers will experiment through various physical improv techniques including viewpoints, mime, contact improv dance, wordless storytelling,  scene pictures, and emotional improv movement. The class will provide an improved physical awareness, concentration, connection to scene partner, developing creativity, environment work, mindfulness, and working off of impulse. Students will perform for friends and family on the night of the last class. Prerequisite: Level 101, 201, and 301 (Characters), or permission from the ED.

 

Level 304: The Harold

In this upper level elective, you will learn all of the elements of the long form piece created by Del Close,  The Harold. This classic structure is the form that theaters such as Improv Olympic and Upright Citizens Brigade were founded on.  The class will focus on all elements of a successful Harold including openings, beat structure, group games, and how to use variety and texture to create a show that explores an idea that the group creates together.  Prerequisites: Level 101 and Level 201.

Level 305: Acting for Improvisers

The dirty secret of improv, the one many improvisers won’t even whisper to themselves at night, is that improv is acting.  Acting for Improvisers will focus on “living truthfully under imaginary circumstances.”  We will be slowing down to explore character creation and motivation using scripted scenes and monologues as well as fully improvised scenes.  This course will require some work outside of class, and full engagement in class, with the commitment to play scenes for truth before laughs.  The class will culminate in a showcase combining scripted scenes and fully improvised dramatic scenework.

Level 306: Ensemble and Performance

You have mastered the fundamentals of improv and scene work and you understand the basics of long form improv – so what next? Now it’s time to become a member of an ensemble and rehearse long form formats specifically to perform shows in front of a general audience.  In this level you still receive individual notes for your personal development while you also discover how to be a member of a tight knit team to create amazing shows spontaneously for a live audience. This level allows you to experience the magic of long form improv including edits, beats, and game.  This class will feature two performance opportunities in front of an audience.  Prerequisites: Level 101, Level 201, and at least one other 300-Level class.

Level 307: Intro to Sketch Writing

This class will focus on the fundamental structures of sketch comedy, that is, the skeletons on which great laughs are built.  In this class, we will explore and write with and around several traditional sketch formulas and genres.  Students should expect to write at least one sketch per week outside of class working towards a final presentation of the writing and are expected to see at least one sketch show during the course of the class. Prerequisites are Level 101 and 201.

Level 308: Introduction to Musical Improv

Do you ever just get that urge to bust out into song? In this high energy class you will learn the basic concepts and tools to make up songs on the spot! Students will participate in exercises that encourage you to think quick on your feet and in verse, as well as understand the mechanics of creating songs.  Through the class you will learn to sign songs and full blown ensemble numbers confident in your own voice!  No singing experience necessary. Every class is accompanied by musician, Jeff Waters.  Prerequisites BIG University Levels 101 and 201.

Level 309: Group Scenes

Two characters standing on stage: the most common improvised scene. But how do scenes change when a third, fourth, fifth or ninth player is thrown into the mix? In this advanced improvisation class students will learn pertinent skills for scenes with three or more players. Special emphasis will be placed on finding the game and sharing focus. The class will survey scene painting, group openings, three person scenes, organic group games, split scenes, while encouraging players to heighten factually, emotionally and physically. The class will culminate in a long-form performance which emphasizes group dynamics.

Level 310: Instinctual Improv

Work on improvising without self evaluation or thought.  This 7 session workshop will focus on working instinctually within scenes and relying on your subconscious mind to pick up on and follow patterns, relationships and the flow of the scene.

Level 401: Structure and Form for Performance

Learn to listen to the rhythms of scenes to develop new structures that have never been played. Along the way, the class will touch upon familiar forms such as the Harold, monoscenes, and storyboard before going completely freeform where students will be guided in pushing the boundaries. Learn about how stage isn’t just the inches of wood that we’re standing on, but anywhere that the performance takes you. Students will have the opportunity to perform for an audience four times during the session with specific feedback and guidance throughout the process. It would be ideal if the student can attend at least two of the four performances if not all. Prerequisite: Level 101, 201, at least one Level 300 class (or equivalent). This class is requiring of a teacher recommendation in order to sign up.  Contact michael.hartwell@bigimprov.org with questions.

Level 402: The Master Class

Advanced training is about becoming a confident, skilled and consistent performer. Have fun and seriously work your improv chops in this master class. The instructor will coach the class to work well as an ensemble while giving extensive personal notes to help improve each class member’s improv skills. Explore characters, finding the game of scenes, truly supporting your scene partners, and more. Students will have the opportunity to perform for an audience four times during the session with specific feedback and guidance throughout the process. It would be ideal if the student can attend at least two of the four performances if not all. Prerequisite: Level 101, 201, at least one Level 300 class (or equivalent). This class is requiring of a teacher recommendation in order to sign up.  Contact michael.hartwell@bigimprov.org with questions.

Level 311: Playing Close to Yourself

This class will focus on playing characters who are wildly different than you on the surface, but who can still be played as being very close to you.  We’ll look at playing characters in scenes with exciting professions, dealing with huge life experiences, stuck in life or death scenarios and who believe in strange game-driving point of views, but who still feel and act very much like yourself.  Prerequisite:  Level 101, Level 201

Level 312: Premise Me, Premise Me

Students will learn and drill the Premise Keepers format, identifying comedic premises in a modified Pattern Game opening and then shooting directly into scenes.  The base reality will be left to improv but the central comedic ideas of scenes will have already been selected.  Prerequisites:  Level 101, Level 201, and at least one other 300-Level class.

Level 313: Pretty Flower

The Pretty Flower helps improvisers discover why you have to commit to great characters. It balances patient, durable scenes with lightning-quick, heightening scenes. Switching between those two modes of play is exhilarating—you’ll leave this class as a better improviser.  Along with building a wide range of improv skills, the Pretty Flower is also a wildly fun and flexible improv format for performance. During this elective we’ll cover a variety of different ways you can tailor and theme the core Pretty Flower format to craft a show you love performing.  As an added bonus, you’ll learn two additional performance formats (monoscene and the Dusty) in the process of learning the Pretty Flower. Prerequisites: Level 101, Level 201, and at least one other 300-Level class.