We are very exited about our newest programs. We have been performing at K-12 schools -a s well as hosting field trips to our Times Square Theater – since 2004. But recently we have been very active helping students, teachers and parents get arts back into the school by creating comedy clubs all over New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
We have teaching artists in schools, camps and community centers throughout tri-state area presenting shows, workshops, residencies and weekly classes. We also have shows and classes for the public in Times Square. If you need any help at any stage below just ask.
- We can offer an assembly show to help introduce the art form to the entire school.
- We can send a teacher to run your first class/rehearsal.
- We can send a director to teach you some new games.
- We can supply a teacher to run a weekly program after school.
- I you are interested in these programs and cannot get local program going, join one of our classes in Times Square.
I have said for years, Improv is probably the best way to get arts back into the schools.
- Improv requires zero investment. No props, costumes or sets required. And you do not have to pay royalties to a publisher (Plays and musicals). And you do not have to memorize lines, so in this new world of Test Preparation, you can focus on school studies instead of memorizing monologues. Many use our teachers to help start a program but many do not even need that. So many of us started by watching “WHOSE LINE IS IT ANYWAY” and starting our own troupes. Now there are so many resources online – videos, how-to game descriptions and more.
- Anyone can Improvize. We have had students with zero experience doing a show after a 2-hour workshop.
- Unlike theater – where you memorize someone else’s writing – you become a writer. Every time you get up to play, you are story telling. You are engaged in creating characters, setting and plot.
- Comedy is so much cooler. I love theater. I even love Opera, Jazz, Shakespeare… But these days everyone loves comedy. We get the students most unlikely to do theater doing Improv.
- Liek all arts, Improv has so many invaluable benefits – public speaking, self confidence, self respect, team, eye contact, team, creative writing and so much more.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO START?
- You need space. But not a lot. A class room is more than enough. If you cannot get a school space, meet at someone’s home. Move the coffee table over and start.
- You need time. You need to carve out an hour or two every week to meet and rehearse. We do not have lines to learn but you will need to learn games and plan for a performance. Most schools have an activity period. Perhaps before school, after school or during lunch. More about this later.
- You need players. “Players” are the actors/actresses that Improvise. You can ask friends. You can hold auditions. 4-5 is perfect for a new team. 10-20 perfect for a workshop/class. In a class of 20 you can create 3-4 teams.
- You need an adult to say OK. Easy. We have teachers and parents coming to us all the time.
- You need administration to say OK. Easy, most of the time. Turns out that Principals would love to offer more programs but there is no money. So you say, “We don’t want any money.”
- You need to plan a show. OK you do not need to have a performance to get together and play. However, I always push for a show because it gives all a focus and a goal.
Ok you have negotiated with your school to have a room for a certain time and have lined up a teacher or parent to be the chaperon/supervisor and you have a few students reay to play…
- Warm-up – Every rehearsal should start with a warm up. get the individuals and team ready to play together. ZIP ZAP ZUP is always one of my favorites. There are 100s if not 1000s of choices. On he first day do a “NAME” game and others that help artists to know each other. One of the biggest hurdles to great Improv is creating a safe supportive environment. The more players know and trust each other, the easier it is to grow as a team.
- Develop technique – Play a few games geared specifically at teaching a skill. Play games that teach story telling. Play games that build team work. Develop better pantomime skills. Play games that help develop “YES! And…” Play a few rhyming games. There are 1000s of games that develop skills. We have many online.
- Performance games – play some games you may put in a show someday.
AS YOU PROGRESS
- In the beginning spend more time on Warm-up and technique games.
- As you progress slowly focus more on performance, but never forget to warm-up.
- Learn new games. Hire a teacher/director to work with your team. Go online and watch videos of professional and other student troupes. Go to shows of other Improv troupes. Go to library and get books filed with games.
- Develop other skills. Your Improv will get better as you expand your knowledge. You do not need this to start but to truly become great study read and take classes in history, music, public speaking, dance, acting, stage combat, mime, directing, writing and more. As an artist you will continue being a student of the world long past retirement.
- Plan a show.
PUTTING ON A SHOW
- You need a space – Theaters are great but may be too big for a young team. A class room can turn into a theater. We have run shows in teacher’s lounges and cafeterias at schools. Many schools have double classrooms with room dividers. All you need for Improv is enough space to play and space for audience. You want the space to be safe for both.
- LIGHTING – you do not need anything fancy. You simply need to be able to see faces.
- SOUND – sound is the biggest issue for young artists. Most schools do not have sophisticated sound systems and most young artists cannot project. Yet so many school theaters are big enough for the entire school to fit for an assembly. Highly unfair to a young artist this is why I often recommend a class room. In comedy, being heard is very important.
- Filling seats – Who is your audience? Never assume they will come. Promote. Make posters, flyers and use social media. Tell your parents way in advance and then remind them often. If you are doing this for a living,filling seats means paying your rent. But for everyone a full house makes it a lot more fun to play.
- Plan a show. Decide who will introduce each game (MC), who will be in each game and who needs to attend to tech. The more you plan ahead, the more relaxed you will be at show time so you can focus on performing. The one downside of Improv as an artist is that we do not have characters to hide behind. I have performed Opera with Bronchitis and Shakespeare on a very bad day. But with Improv you want a clear head. The more you prepare for anything in life, the more you can focus when most needed.
I have been telling students for years, if your school does not provide, create it. Teachers, parents and students usually complain about losing resources and programs.
But I say take matters into your own hands. Create opportunities for your self and friends.
If you are unable to do so all by yourself ask for help. The sooner you learn to not fear the word “NO” the sooner you will find success. If you do not ask, you will never receive. And when one says, NO, do not listen. Find a way to convince that person OR find someone else interested in helping.
Saturdays 3pm IMPROV 4 KIDS at the Broadway Comedy Club
“A production you and your children don’t want to miss!” ABC NEWS
Fun for the whole family!!! We present this show 7 days/week for field trips and at schools, camps and other non-profits. Also great at Bring Kids to work days and family events.
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