Here is an excerpt from an email I received this morning from one of our wonderful parents (inspiring me to write this article)…
“I think the class & what you are teaching these kids is wonderful & amazing & valuable for them now & in the future. It almost seems like a sort of therapy session for the teens! This is a precious & difficult time for them & I think your class is helping them express that & get through it.” – Parent from our Weekly Public Class “Comedy 4 Teens” at the Broadway Comedy Club NYC, Saturdays 10am.
Improv 4 Teens / Improv 4 Kids Shows and Workshops Deliver Far More Than Laughs
- PUBLIC SHOWS & CLASSES for Kids, Teens & Families
- Test Prep/Success
- Creativity and Critical Thinking
- Community & Communications- Team, Respect, Listening, Anti-Bully
- Leadership – Public Speaking, Self Respect, Self Confidence
- Cultural Arts, Language Arts and Character Building Curriculum (and more)
- GREAT RATES!!! Field Trips to Times Square, Assemblies, After School, PTA/FAMILY Nights, Residencies, Block Booking and more
My response to the parent mentioned above this morning? THANK YOU! Every time I question my choices in life -delivering educational outreach theater shows and classes rather than pursuing more traditional actor/singer paths – I get inspirational feedback form a parent, teacher or principal.
Lisa Palotti (Speech Teacher) to John Renner (Principal) regarding shows, workshops and residencies at Summit School, Queens:
“Here’s my report: OMG it was awesome! Truly one of the best activities I’ve ever
seen take place here at Summit! We gave them a very large group of kids to
work with, and they handled them wonderfully. The way that they related to the
kids was terrific, and the activities they led worked on so many pragmatic
language skills in SUCH an effective way, including increasing the kids’ awareness
of their bodies in space, body proximity, eye contact, voice, and generally how
others perceive them from their non-verbal cues. They also did word association
and one-word stories that involved verbal expression and required kids to follow a
story line. Almost all of the kids looked like they were having a fantastic time, and
it was an activity where the shy kids could get to interact with others in a very
structured (hence comfortable) way. At the end I spoke to the three members of
the improv group and raved about how great they were and told them the specific
ways that the activities helped our students. They asked me a number of
questions, such as regarding how to handle various students’ behaviors, and we
talked about upcoming activities.”
I could NEVER come up with the words to describe what we do so well. One, it would seem contrived, bragging about our program. Two, I am not a formal educator that could draw those conclusions.
We first were introduced to Summit School in 2008. After performing at a Bar Mitzvah, the mom sponsored us to do a show at both the Lower (Jr High) and Upper (High School) Schools run by Summit. These students were amazing. But we were warned “Just to let you know, these students are special…” To better explain, here is the mission statement from the school’s website:
“OUR MISSION The Summit School provides children who have learning and emotional challenges the educational support they require to achieve typical academic milestones and develop their individual strengths and talents. As members of a supportive and nurturing community, our students maximize their strengths, develop self-esteem, become productive contributors to society, and go on to pursue higher education, careers, and interpersonal relationships.”
When we left the schools that day, the entire cast exclaimed “BEST SHOWS EVER!” These students may have “learning and emotional challenges” but they are brilliantly creative tweens and teens. GREAT KIDS!!! (Sorry, I know tweens & teens hate being called “kids”) We received the above email from Principal Renner after a 2010 day of shows & workshops at the Upper School. Since those first few shows, we have had numerous shows and workshops at the school, and a teacher providing weekly classes.
For years we were all about being the most fun a school ever had on a field trip or at an
assembly. Then in recent years, thanks to feedback from teachers and parents, we realized we offered so much more, inspiring and teaching creativity, community and leadership. But now science tells us that perhaps our greatest gift to the students is the laughter! What can laughter do? Here are just some benefits for mental, physical and social health
- Lower blood pressure
- Increase vascular blood flow and oxygenation of the blood
- Give a workout to the diaphragm and abdominal, respiratory, facial, leg, and back muscles
- Reduce certain stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline
- Increase the response of tumor- and disease-killing cells such as Gamma-interferon and T-cells
- Defend against respiratory infections–reducing the frequency of colds–by immunoglobulon in saliva.
- Increase memory and learning; in a study at Johns Hopkins University Medical School, humor during instruction led to increased test scores
- Improve alertness, creativity, and memory
SHOWS & CLASSES in TIMES SQUARE for the WHOLE FAMILY
We run most of our shows & classes on Saturdays but add shows regularly for holidays and group needs.
SHOW & WORKSHOP added WINTER BREAK for DOE SCHOOLS
3pm MATINEE SHOW for the Whole Family $25
1:30 WORKSHOP for the Whole Family $20 – FREE with ticket to 3pm show!!!
MORE INFO REGARDING FEBRUARY 16 ACTIVITIES CLICK HERE
SATURDAYS 10am Comedy 4 Kids, Comedy 4 Teens Classes
We offer comedy classes every weekend. With 2-3 teachers on hand we split up various groups based on age and level. Every week includes 60-90 minutes of Improv Comedy games of warm-up, technique and performance. The remaining time is focused on developing original comedy monologues (Stand-Up Comedy routines).Our 8 week programs include a bonus week (as families never travel the same weekend) and a performance showcase for friends and family. You can drop by most weekends to audit the class for $30 at the door. $200 for 10 weeks. CLICK HERE for Calendar and Discount Registrations
SATURDAYS 3pm FAMILY MATINEES (AKA Improv 4 Kids)
This is a professional show for families and kids of all ages. Our talented cast of actors, comics and singers from stage and screens create original scenes and songs based on your child’s suggestions and participation. Imagine WHOSE LINE IS IT ANYWAYS on ABC Family or Disney Channel. High energy and high impact. This show is a popular destination for student groups and birthdays, and the cast tours nation wide to schools, camps, libraries, and family events. $25 plus 1 drink minimum (sodas, juice, H2O count) at the door. CLICK HERE for discount tickets ($10 each – NYIT exclusive)
BIRTHDAY PARTIES for KIDS/TEENS
$25pp at 3pm shows includes pizza, beverage & VIP seating
$600 Private Show includes 2-hour rental, 60-minute show, Pizza, Beverage up to 20ppl. $25/additional guest
SATURDAYS 8pm LMAO OFF BROADWAY
PARENTAL GUIDANCE NECESSARY!!! Not a kids’ show, but this mature Improv Comedy Show stays closer to PG-13 and is preferred by most teens and older families. Content is hilarious but mild compared to most cable TV, with rare cursing and double entendre. “If your kid is watching South Park and R-Rated movies, we are not teaching them anything new,” I tell concerned parents. This show is very popular with college groups, corporate teams, and bachelorette parties. $25 plus 2 drink minimum at the door. CLICK HERE for discount tickets ($10 each – NYIT exclusive)
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TEST PREP / SUCCESS
USING IMPROV TO HELP STUDENTS BETTER PREPARE FOR TESTS AND THE STRESS / ANXIETY OF TEST TAKING
“Can you tie your programs into test taking?”
In many of my workshops I have adopted the saying “NOTHING IS HARD!” The idea of labeling something as “hard” throws up the walls. We give up because the task is insurmountable.
Since the dawn of time – of my teaching career – I have regurgitated a phrase from my Junior High Band Teacher “MAKE BIG MISTAKES!” I immediately follow that with “NOT ON PURPOSE!” Too kids today fear failure, which leads to ZERO effort. Again, they shut down. By not fearing failure, we take chances. We creep out of our shells. And the follow up is “LEARN FROM OUR MISTAKES!”
A big part of TEST TAKING is stress and anxiety. Students feel so pressured they collapse under the burden – mentally and physically. The laughter students experience alone at our shows & workshops de-stresses their lives. It brings some joy into their lives. Joy leads to hope. Hope leads to effort. But we also teach valuable techniques students can use to focus in the moment, rather than hard thinking.
“In a study at Johns Hopkins University Medical School, humor during instruction led to increased test scores”
Through Professional Development classes with teachers and staff we can show your staff how to use these Improv Theater Games to make the learning process more fun. GAME CHANGER!!!
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CREATIVITY and CRITICAL THINKING
Humor and creativity work in similar ways, says humor guru William Fry, M.D., of Stanford University–by creating relationships between two disconnected items, you engage the whole brain.
In our classes we teach both creative thinking and writing. In our warm-up games such as One-Word Story, we get the entire class to work together, creating original stories. We talk about Characters and Setting. In Improv, we focus even more on relationships between characters. We encourage using lots of adjectives and adverbs to make our stories more interesting. We encourage great sentence structure.
In many of our classes we include a Stand-Up Comedy element, where students take their real life experiences and mold them into comedy routines. We include the traditional elements of creative and critical writing. The research comes from our inspirations and experiences. We brain storm details. We outline our thoughts. We eventually draft our routines. Using journals we track all of our progress and writings.
We make learning how to read and write fun!!! And as students learn to create their own stories, they go back to ELA (English Language Arts) classes and are excited to analyze plot, characters and themes of the classic novels, poems and plays.
The mental skills developed in Improv Comedy Classes also help develop better critical thinking in Math and Science and all subjects. Seemingly abstract concepts become easier to grasp.
We have heard many stories of Science and History teachers using Improv to role play famous and important historical figures. The applications are only capped by your imagination’s limits. And we expand that as well.
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USING IMPROV TO BRING YOUR COMMUNITY TOGETHER AND TEACHING VALUABLE INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION SKILLS
Improvisation Workshops have been used for Decades to promote Corporate Team Building. Simply bringing these workshops into a school setting is teaching valuable life skills they will be expected to know at the office, service desk or sales floor.
Far beyond career preparation, we teach basic life skills. Students learn to engage other students and adults. To succeed in Improv Games one must LISTEN to others. One must FOCUS on the task at hand.
“YES AND…” is the #1 Rule
We have plenty of blog entries about this, but in short, we support our teammates. We accept their offers and add rich details to move our stories forward.
A big part is making our team look great. Less focus is put on ourselves. We strive to make our team succeed, eliminating both ego and insecurity issues.
We learn to trust our team. You do not need to worry about yourself because everyone else is supporting you.
BRINGING “YES AND…” TO YOUR SCHOOL
This becomes a Game Changer when the entire school adopts this philosophy. In a few schools we have combined our workshops and residencies with professional develop for teachers and staff. The level of communications is increased top-down creating better experiences for everyone.
USING IMPROV TO TEACH PUBLIC SPEAKING, SELF-CONFIDENCE, SELF – RESPECT
The wisdom and judgement of a great leader takes years and decades to develop. However, one of the biggest issues holding back students from becoming powerful forces of leadership is the fear of public speaking. This fear leads to extreme shyness or extreme over compensation and rudeness.
Public Speaking is the #1 Phobia
Learning how to be a great performer is all about becoming comfortable with talking in front of a crowd as well as the physical presence of a performance. In a short time, we inspire students to leap out of their shells. Their as so many brilliant students in the NYC School system that go unnoticed because they never speak up out of fear of being ridiculed by other students or being called on mistakes by teachers.
Right from the first warm-up we encourage students to participate fully. We get students to fill the room up with sound in the simplest of games such as ZIP ZAP ZUP. Because we are having fun, they happily play along. As we gradually switch to games that require speaking words, we continue to remind them that everyone in the circle has to hear their words in order to Listen and Respond to what they say.
All of our warm-up games involve making eye contact with other students and teachers. In most cases this involves following the story around a circle, listening with your eyes so that when it is your turn you are focused and easily contribute.
As we do more story telling we get pickier about projection, diction and annunciation. “Speak to the back of the room”. Looking at the floor leads to your vocal sound falling short of the front row, never mind the back. “What you think is shouting, is simple projection.” So many (too many) students have been told to be quiet far more often that to speak up and be heard. We also emphasize “wait your turn” to speak up.
And of course we focus on the physical performance teaching pantomime. For any student not actively involved in sports, the middle school years are very challenging developmentally. As boys and girls grow into their adult bodies they lack the guidance in dealing with the world. There are more students with horrible posture these day than ever. We teach them to take pride in their steps and movements.
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IMPROV TIES INTO NUMEROUS SCHOOL COURSES
We work with many teachers of music, theater, film, and even comedy.
IMPROV COMEDY works great with all areas of Language Arts at all levels and ages.
In games like one word story we stress how every word is important – noun, pronoun, adjective, verb, adverb, preposition and conjunction. We require students to form great sentences even though we may be stretching the norms of reality with our story content.
“Do our stories have to make sense?” Students will ask.
“No. This is comedy. Dr. Seuss invented words and crazy scenarios. So be silly. Use you imaginations. Push your sense of reality to the extremes. However, our sentences should make sense.”
As we start performing scenes, we discuss plot diagrams. Every story needs a beginning. middle and an end. We need to create characters and setting. Those characters need to engage in an action. We talk about type of conflict.
As stated above in many ways we focus on presenting language – projection, eye contact with audience, diction and annunciation.
We often are engaged by Guidance Departments to help address the Anti-Bully movement. By building strong, self-respecting, self confident leaders, we create individuals that will not be bullies or victims. Instead we create those that will speak up and out against bully behaviors. We create heroes that will lend a helping hand to bully victims and deter friends bullying in their friends.
Like wise these strong, self-respecting, self confident leaders become more involved in other classes. They participate in discussions. They listen with purpose. They absorb naturally instead of strict memorization. In other words, they learn the how and the why, not just the what and when.
So when they go to take a test, instead of trying to regurgitate memorized information, they understand the material. Best way to solve test prep is to truly teach the students HOW to be great students.
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Our rates are the best in the business, PERIOD.
If you are paying any less, you are not getting professional quality. And many far inferior programs charge far more. We have not raised our base rates in 10 years. That being said, if the rates below still seem overwhelming, we offer additional TITLE-1 discounts, NYC School Discounts, block booking discounts and season discounts for our slower months (September especially).
Field Trips to NYC
Our programs work in any venue. For some groups it is far cheaper to bring us to your school. We are limited in group sizes at our Times Square venue to about 200ppl. But for most the student is paying, not a school fund, and this is a cheaper option for the school, itself. Plus, students love attending a real New York City comedy club. The environment is far more inspiring and time frames less rigid.
WORKSHOPS $200 up to 20 students (1 teaching artist) 60-90 minutes
SHOWS $500 up to 50 students (3-4 teaching artists) 60-minutes plus Q&A
Once these minimums are met
$10pp Show OR Workshop 60-90 minutes
$15pp Show AND Workshop 120-minutes
$25pp Show, Workshop, Lunch Up to 3 hours – The full package includes pizza, beverage.
NOTE: If we do not supply lunch, students may bring form home and eat in the theater (There are some restrictions, but most of the time we are in a midtown NYC Comedy Club with tables and chairs. During busy seasons we sometimes overflow into more traditional theaters that do not allow food and drink).
Assemblies at your School
Travel costs maybe added if your school does not fit our routing schedule.
Discounts for NYC and surrounding counties, Block Booking Discounts Too!!!
NON PROFIT RATES NATION WIDE
$300/ WORKSHOP 60-90 minutes 1 teaching artist up to 20 students (recommended)
– Our teaching artist will drop in anytime to present our Intro to Improv program. The class is customized to the age and skill level of your group.
$800/Show 3-4 teaching artists Up to 60 minutes
– $400 additional consecutive hour of show/workshop
– $1600/DAY of SHOWS & WORKSHOPS (FOUR 45-60 minute show/workshop sessions same day)
$6000/week team of 4 teaching artists up to 20 45-60 minute show/workshop sessions
– In school residency for one school OR district booking. We present programs for all grades K-12. In-School Assemblies and Workshops, After School Programs, PTA Functions, Fundraisers, Professional Development workshops. We will hit every school in your county if need be.
$1500 up to 20 hours (TEN 2-hour sessions 1-teaching artist)
– Whether over the course of a single week or 10 weeks, we will bring our public program OR just Improv Classes to your school or community center. We have teachers all over the NYC area at schools, camps, JCCs, YMCAs, etc.