$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 Improv Game
Apply what you’ve learned in Level 101 to focus on "the game of the scene". This class is heavy on exercises in the structural components of game-based, longform improv: zeroing-in on one idea at a time and playing them to their comedic high points. Students will emerge from Level 201 with the tools necessary to stage longer, intertwining scenes with recurring themes, rich characters, and fun relationship dynamics. Prerequisite: Level 101
Level 202: Short Form Improv
You’ve learned the basics of building improvised scenes, now dive into the magical world of short form improv. In this class, students will focus on performance techniques within the parameters of punchy, predetermined formats (think Whose Line Is It Anyway? or BIG's very-own short form troupe, Plan B) . Students will engage in a variety of short form formats including guessing, gimmick, firing line, audience participation, pattern recognition, gibberish, and more.
Prerequisite: Level 101
Level 301: Scene Work
You’ve learned the basics of longform improv, now get focused on making your scenes smoother and more innovative. This class will give you an opportunity to tighten up your longform skills by building stronger comedic ideas through a deeper understanding of character and game among your team. Heightened game moves, backline support moves, second beats, callbacks, and advanced edits will all be practiced and utilized to clean up, fill out, and innovate scene work. Prerequisites: Level 101 and Level 201
Level 302: 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. Prerequisites: Level 101 and Level 201
Level 303: 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 improvised monologues and fully-improvised scenes. This course will require intense engagement to best produce honest, dramatic scenes, with the commitment to play scenes for truth before laughs. The class will culminate in a showcase consisting of fully-improvised dramatic scene work. Prerequisites: Level 101 and Level 201
Level 304: 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: Level 101 and Level 201
Level 305: Group Mind
Group Mind is one of the most mysterious aspects of improv. It's the collective consciousness of the ensemble (and it's not as a scary as it sounds). In fact it's an essential ingredient for a strong troupe. Group Mind engenders the trust, connection and teamwork needed to be successful on stage. It's a study of collaboration. In this intermediate class students will learn how to play organically, engage physically, and take group ownership of every scene. This class is perfect for the player who leads from the heart, values patience, and theatricality.The class will culminate in a showcase, where students will presents "The Dragon's Breath" format, an organic long-form structure where the ensemble supports every scene and there are no edits, only transformations. *This class will be very physical, and involve body contact, so wear clothing that is easy to move in and bring a water bottle.
Prerequisites: Level 101 and Level 201
Level 306: 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: Level 101, Level 201, and at least one other 300-Level class
Level 307: Improv For Storytellers
The only thing more important than the stories we hear are the stories we tell. In an everyday sense, stories help us to gain perspective on ourselves and the world will live in, but in improv stories can be used to inspire scenes. In this advanced, seven-week class students will use fictional and non-fictional stories to generate initiations, comedic premises and other scenic elements for their performances. Students will survey popular storytelling formats including Armando, Living Room, and Story-Story, while refining their ability to speak extemporaneously, identify comedic opportunities, and navigate two person improv scenes. This class is perfect for the students craving truthful improv that is premise rich, yet relatable, improv that inherently creates connections between the ensemble and the audience. The class will culminate with a performance that showcases students' storytelling abilities.
Prerequisites: Level 101, Level 201, and at least one other 300-Level class
Level 401: Group Games
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? And how do you build those group games within a Harold into more than just a palette cleanser? In this advanced improvisation class students will learn pertinent skills for scenes in which every player is involved. Special emphasis will be placed on agreeing, finding the game, and sharing focus while heightening emotionally and physically. The class will explore working as a group through openings, walk-ons and backline support, and numerous approaches to organic and structured group games. The class will culminate in a long-form performance which emphasizes the awesomeness of group dynamics. Prerequisites: Level 101, Level 201, and Level 301
Level 402: Premise-based Improv
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 Level 301
Level 403: 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. Prerequisites: Level 101, Level 201, plus at least two 300/400-Level classes
Level 404: 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. Prerequisites: Level 101, Level 201, plus at least two 300/400-Level classes
Level 405: Openings & Initiations
This class focuses on the most important part of your show: the beginning! (Think of it like your mom thought about breakfast.) Students will learn several “Openings” from which to pull their show ideas from. Learn The Invocation, Flocking, Scene Painting, and a couple of Kate Zelensky originals. We will also explore the first few lines of a scene; how to pull from our Openings and initiate ideas clearly and respond at the top of our intelligence, getting our scenes off on the right foot. Prerequisites: Level 101, Level 201, plus at least two 300/400-Level classes
Level 501: 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, Level 201, Level 301, & Level 401 (or teacher approval)
Level 502: The Monoscene Form
The Monoscene is a 25-30 minute scene that utilizes all the same characters in the same setting for the entirety of the show. With a need to establish sustainable characters and a cohesive, plot-driven storyline, the monoscene will push improvisers to work on developing deeper, more complext characters and relationships. Similarly, the monoscene format will teach improvisers to make more out of their environment and editing techniques in an effort to enrich the scene and give it more substance. Prerequisites: Level 101, Level 201, plus at least two 300/400-Level class
Level 503: The Macroscene Form
Why wipe edit when you can bend space to your will? Learn to edit scenes by following characters or items from location to location as you build a self contained world for your comedy to live in. This class will teach the Macroscene form, created by Kevin Hines. Class time will be split between learning the form and associated helpful skills and finding game organically. *Students should be prepared for hard notes in this class. Prerequisites: Level 101, Level 201, plus at least two 300/400-Level classes
Level 504: The 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. Prerequisites: Level 101, Level 201, plus at least two 300/400-Level classes
Level 505: The Movie Experience
This action-packed class will explore the Movie Experience form, a form building off the Movie form originally developed by Del Close and the Family in Chicago. This class will focus on the group collectively creating an action movie that plays on and subverts the style of movies. Students will learn a variety of edits as well as a form of improvised stage combat. This is a physical class that can involve some adult material. Students should come prepared to move about and be comfortable playing villainous characters.
Prerequisites: Level 101, Level 201, plus at least one 300-Level class
The Harold Night Program
Once classes have you feeling thoroughly trained and stage-ready, give The Conservatory a shot! The Conservatory is where all BIGgies get their start, with weekly, coached practices and bi-monthly performances on Conservatory Tuesdays! Auditions for the Conservatory happen on a rolling basis, with improvisers of all experience levels welcome to participate. Contact BIG's Artistic Director, Jennifer Withers at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.