Monday, December 23, 2013

What the Heck is Long Form Improv?

Long-form improv teacher Chris Sullivan.

Popular Acting Instructor Adds New Class, Teaches Adult Students

There’s a new class in South Coast Repertory’s Adult Acting Program. It’s called Long Form Improv, and it’s taught by one of the Theatre Conservatory’s most popular instructors. The instructor is Chris Sullivan.

But what is Long Form Improv, anyway?

Serious acting students know the answer. But for those of you—and there are many—who are enrolled in SCR’s Theatre Conservatory to develop better communication skills, gain spontaneity or just make new friends, let Chris explain. Who knows? This could be the class you’ve been looking for.

“Long Form Improvisational Theater is improvised pieces from ten minutes up to a full-length play. The comedy comes from the narrative (story) and character-driven choices and less from simple gags and jokes,” says Chris.

The goal in his class is to tell a story that will be an hour long and without the help of a playwright, director, sets or props. He calls it a “crazy-hard” thing to do and says that when it works, it can be truly amazing—and when it doesn’t work, it’s still “super fun.”

The new class came about the same way others have for Chris—out of popularity. Seven years ago, he joined SCR as an instructor of Improv I in the Teen Acting Program. So many students thrived in the class—and even took it more than once—that Improv II was added for teens like Shane Iverson.

Shane speaks for her classmates when she says, "Chris relates to people in a way that makes them feel comfortable to take risks and have fun in his classes. His wit, combined with his incredible knowledge of the craft, makes me look forward to class every week."

Seeing the enthusiasm of the young students, Chris suggested adding an improv class in the Adult Acting Program, and Hisa Takakuwa, Conservatory and Education Director, readily agreed.

“Our evening program for adults includes Improv I, which Chris has taught, and Advanced Improv. Those classes are very important to the curriculum—and popular with students,” Takakuwa says. “But what he proposed was going to another level by adding new techniques and processes to develop an hour-long story with his students. I was intrigued by that possibility, and I think students will be, too.”

So Long Form Improvisation will be included—for the first time—in the Winter Session, Jan. 13 – March 10. And, according to Chris, there are four groups who will enjoy—and benefit from—the class.
  • For an improviser, this is a great way to train the brain to start thinking about what comes next, how to create and tell good stories and how to find the comedy from the characters, story and situation—not relying on the “game.”
  • For an actor, the goal is always to be “in the moment.” In an improvised play, actors are compelled to be in the moment—and every moment that comes before and after. In fact, both improvisers and actors will learn to use and trust their instincts because there won’t be a director telling them where and when to move or a playwright telling them what to say.
  • For a writer, this is a move away from the computer and the “final draft.” The class forces writers to make narrative choices and learn to collaborate. Plus, they’ll end up with a thousand ideas!
  • For non-performers—those interested in personal growth and development—the class offers an opportunity to work with others, take a collection of ideas and put them together to achieve one goal. They will learn that with risks come rewards and that mistakes can be gifts—two valuable life lessons. And there’s a real plus for those with young children: they’ll come away with the best bedtime stories!

In other words—this class is for everyone. Besides, according to Chris, no matter what group you fall into, you’re going to have “crazy fun.”

Check out this class—and more—and then enroll!

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