Specialty improv workshops for improvisers
PHOTO: Olivier Valiente
Sometimes scenes can seem like hard work; like we can’t get anything going. Rather than trying harder, the problem may be that we’re trying too hard already. This session is designed to help you (and your scene partner) get out of your own way and discover moment-by-moment.
Through exercises and game play we will focus on making truthful, engaging scenes that are fun to play and watch. This workshop will help improvisers uncover the scene that wants to be played, instead of the one you are trying to force it to be.
Bigger characters, faster initiations, stronger scenes – that’s the focus of this workshop.Starting big means leading off with packed offers and meaty characters. Or starting in the middle, with no idea of what’s about to happen. Discoveries then follow quickly, plans get tossed aside, and high-energy scenes take off from there. Good times.
In this session we’ll explore ways to play bigger and faster with civility. We’ll find ways to follow (and subvert) the rules. And the funny will come without thinking or trying – just responding. Go big.
The idea that ‘relationships’ apply only to your scene partner is limited. This workshop plays with the idea of relationships by exploring different types of connections in improv: to ideas, to ourselves, to our environment, to our scene partners, to the audience, to the theatre. And so on.
The ripple effect will help us draw on anything and everything on-hand to create scenes and monologues. Using presentation techniques, attitude exercises, riffs, deep listening and some other stuff, we’ll add some new tools to our improv. We don’t need to make big waves, we just need to ride the ripples.
Go it alone. Whether you plan to mount a solo improv show, or just want to experience what it’s like to improvise by yourself, give this a try. Learn to ‘Yes And’ yourself. Be more physical, create bigger characters, make more honest discoveries. It’s amazing what you can discover by improvising alone. And then we can build a format that suits you.
Get real – Improv isn’t about invention (at least not always). It can also be about the genuine and the real. From cherished childhood memories, to dealing with calling a character a wrong name in a scene, this session is focused on channeling authenticity and sincerity into your scenework. The emotional connections and humour that results can be not just fun, but memorable. Real memories and honest feelings are powerful, so why not use them to power your improv?
In the best improv the laughs are a by-product of what is being created. And what is being created in that “best improv”? A powerful connection between characters via the scene. This workshop is designed to move beyond laughs into the true core of scenes, and then expand out from that into patterns, reincorporation and narrative arcs, creating a satisfying whole from a bunch of delightful parts.
Regardless of your level this workshop is an excellent way to firm up the basis of your approach to long-form and enrich your scenework. This flexible session focuses on what can most enhance your scenes: strong openings, character and relationship, structure, heightening the game of the scene, and editing and supporting your fellow players.
The focus is on language and rhythm. We’ll play with words as the tools to create meaning in our improv. We’ll also focus on rhythm and rhyming as concepts which apply to creating relationship and finding story within scenes.
Plus, we’ll do a little bit of rapping, rhyming and beatboxing to help you conquer your fear of freestyle rapping.
What is a character? How to we build one or find one? How much thinking about character constitutes pre-planning? Is this accent any good? So many questions! This workshop will provide so many answers, and some ways to create characters that will guide and inform your scenes.
All improv is, at its core, about relationships. This workshop focuses on taking apart elements of relating to your scene partner, cleaning and inspecting these pieces, and then putting them back together. It will provide you with insights into the ways that movement, subtext and emotionality can all be applied to improv scenes, and help you create exciting and compelling scenes with a strong natural driver.
There ain’t no improv without scenes. That’s the core building block. So let’s take some time to dissect those scenes and polish up the pieces. This workshop will look at beginnings, middles and ends of scenes, as well as and investigate where we can go with them.
Shortform is the basis of all improv – because it’s all about strong scenework. This workshop cuts to the core of basic scene and game structure, then layers on other elements (rules, approaches, presentation, twists) to create satisfyingly solid shortform. We’ll touch on various ‘types’ of improv games, so the skills learned are translatable. And not just to other games – to all the improv you do.
There’s no need to waste energy on invention, when there are so many opportunities for discovery. And likewise, we don’t need to try and hammer characters and storylines into place, as long as we trust ourselves, each other, and our story instincts. What this workshop will do is allow you to relax and get out of the way so you can learn to follow the story of the scene or the form, and let yourself be surprised and enjoy the ride.
Stories are what moves us, as performers, and as audiences. The great thing is, we’re all storytellers. And this workshop will help us hone those storytelling instincts to make us better storytellers – collaboratively and on our own. Whether we’re making them up on the spot, adapting a legend, or telling true stories from our past, the way we add in detail, reveal or retain information, and construct our stories along an arc – all contribute to the success of our stories. This workshop will make you a better a storyteller.
More on Workshops
If you’re wondering what an improv workshop with Ryan Millar might look like, watch this short video of an intermediate workshop Ryan gave in Brussels, in spring 2012. It’s just an example, but it gives a good feel. Lots of active exercises, laughter and learning.