Monday, May 24, 2010

Improv with Atkins

Improv teacher Greg Atkins, center, works with students.

“There are only four areas in which improvisation will help you: auditions, performances, business and life.” – Greg Atkins

So, that covers everyone. For serious students, Greg’s improvisation classes are considered essential. Whether playing a role or auditioning for one, improv prepares actors for any challenge.

For everyone else, improv is simply a great help in life—when going on a job interview, presiding over a business meeting, teaching a class, speaking in public, meeting new people or just hanging out. After eight weeks in Improvisation I, shyness is a thing of the past.

Improv has other, often surprising, benefits, to which the instructor himself can attest. “The truth is that improv has helped me in many creative endeavors; for instance, I wouldn’t be as good a writer as I am if I didn’t have a solid basis in the storytelling techniques of improvisation.”

And a good writer he is. His children’s plays (published by Samuel French and Baker’s Plays—check them out online) include William of Stratford, a lovingly embellished glimpse into the life of the young Bard; The Everyday Adventures of Harriet Handelman, about a super-genius girl called upon the save the world; and a musical version of The Emperor’s New Clothes (or a Costumer’s Nightmare).

His most lauded book, Improv! A Handbook for the Actor, is a staple in the world of improvisation.

Besides being a writer (and a longtime consultant on the TV show “Who’s Line is it Anyway?”) Greg has created, directed, and performed with numerous improvisational comedy teams, acted on stage and television and directed more than 30 plays.

For 20 of his 30 years as an SCR instructor, he has taught improv, without skipping a beat—or a season. Does boredom ever set in? “Impossible! There’s always something new. ‘The teacher learns from his students,’ sounds like a cliché, but with improv, it’s true. I’ve been doing similar exercises for 20 years, but while they rarely change, the outcome is always different.”

Greg’s next improv class begins June 15, 2010. Details.

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