March 07, 2004

Notes on My Improv Class: the Final (?) Chapter. Some of you may have noticed (I mean, it's possible) that I hadn't provided an update since week six of my eight-week improv class. I went to the classes, but was in a fairly blah and unenthusiastic frame of mind both times, and subsequently had the kind of classes that I didn't particularly feel like recapping. So I didn't.

But the calendar refuses to halt for even the blahest blahs, and so today, the day of our final class performance moved closer. A few of us got together for a practice session which made me feel a little more confident, but certainly not enough to want anybody to actually see me on stage, a feeling I tried to convey to anybody who inquired about the show. And, um...I'm sorry about that.

And after all of that worrying, I think that everything went pretty well. To explain the show format: one of our group introduced us and asked for a one-word suggestion to get started. From that suggestion, one of us did a brief monologue inspired by the suggestion, after which two people (though more could join in as needed or warranted) would perform a scene inspired by the monologue. After three or four scenes there would be a newly inspired monologue, then some more scenes, and so on for about 45 minutes.

I went into today with the goal of pulling myself away from the back wall and performing in at least one scene, which I did, though I probably should have tried harder to get into a second. The opening monologue was inspired by the word "haircut" and dealt with a scary experience one of us had at a kind of barber school where they were testing out a new clipping technique while numerous classmates gathered to watch. That made me think of other potential worker-training settings, and I ended up becoming a student surgeon who was trying to remove some poor bastard's appendix (because I wouldn't learn about fixing stuff until next semester). Nothing too brilliant and it did have a few draggy moments, but I heard at least a few laughs from the audience and I felt pretty good about doing it.

As I said, I only was the principle in the one scene, but I ended up in three or four others in walk-ons, adding little bits to help scenes that were already ongoing. I thought those went well, too, and I wasn't nearly as hesitant about joining in as I was in the last couple of classes. Surprisingly, performing turned out to be a lot less intimidating than the classes, since while I was on stage, with the spotlights and the darkened room, I couldn't make out anybody in the audience, while during the classes I had to look right at my classmates and the teacher.

So now what? Well, I got into this because I'd always wondered what it would be like to perform, and I definitely performed today, even if only for a few minutes. However, I ended up finding the whole improv process and philosophy to be pretty interesting, and my classmates turned out to be some of the best damn people I've met in years. So right now I'm trying to decide whether to sign up for level two, which I need to do pretty quickly as most of the next cycle of classes are already sold out; more details to come, perhaps.
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