Get bigger audiences and more enrollment for your Improv Classes

Happy-crowd

Are you in an improv group?  Do you want to create more customers?  Customer loyalty?  And sell more improv classes?

Building audience loyalty is vital to your group.

Try this:

During your performances, why not do a demonstration of improv techniques?  Your audiences will learn more about improv and they will enjoy the show more.  Additionally as they learn more about the skills that improvisers use to create stories together spontaneously they will be more likely to take a class.

The Segment could be a 2 to 3 minute segment at the beginning of your show to help warm up the audience and get the players on stage in a fun (as well as low-stress) way.

Possible Segments:

  • Saying Yes (as well as Yes and) helps the players create in the moment.  Demo saying no.  Then demo saying yes.
  • Establishing the "where" or environment.  Two people start a scene and do not "name where they are" and then have the same scene with naming.   "Mary, thank you for meeting me in the park, it's such a lovely day..."
  • Endowment (or "assumptions").  Demonstrate two people meeting where they do not identify each other, and then repeat it with them naming each other.  "Officer Sullivan, good morning."

Have you done this before?  What worked for you?

Please add your thoughts about possible segments below and we'll grow this list so that it can be more useful to other groups.

Thanks.

Keith Johnstone, Author of Impro answers 5 [good] questions

Keith Johnstone Interviewed

Keith Johnstone, author of Impro answers 5 questions. Here are the questions that Keith answers.

  1. Why did you start to improvise?
  2. What do you like about teaching?
  3. What makes a good actor?
  4. Why should improvisers be relaxed?
  5. Why is regular training so important?

Take a look at the video and please share your reactions to his answers below.

For example I related to his answer to the first question.  I started studying theater and acting because I found general social interaction stressful.  And I thought this would be a good way to learn how to survive those situations.

Thanks to our impro colleagues at Quentessenz Impro for posting this video.

Take a class with Viola Spolin with this video

You may have never had the chance to take a class with Viola Spolin but now you can ...do the next best thing. Watch this short video from Joel Veenstra and Marc Warzecha and get a glimpse of the creation of theater games and their impact.

Learn about the Follow the Follower concept.

Valerie Harper describes why Viola came up with Touch Talk, the game where actors must be in physical contact with each other in order to speak.

Take look at the Space Walk activity.

Hear how Side Coaching came into the work and how it's used to help teach the improvisers how to succeed.

And the paradox?  She changed so many lives in a deeply personal way yet didn't want to be seen as a guru.

"Don't thank me. Don't thank me, it's not me, it's the work. It's the work.  Don't make me your guru.  Get out."  ~Viola Spolin via Gary Schwartz

 

 

 

"Creativity is not the clever rearranging of the known. "  ~Viola Spolin via Gary Schwartz

"Keep Going"  ~Viola Spolin

 

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If you want more (yes..and...) order a DVD of Viola teaching a class in 1987 and a recording of The Space Walk HERE.

The site is run by Gary Schwartz.  Thanks Gary.

I ordered them both as soon as I knew they existed.

Creating environment and props out of 'thin air' [Space Object Work]

Go to an Improv theater show and you'll most likely see a bare stage.  Maybe the stage will have a couple of chairs and that's it, no props and no costumes.   If an actor wants to do a scene in a car, he or she will set up two chairs, pretend to open the car door and step inside.  He or she will sit in the chair, hold onto an imaginary steering wheel and pretend to drive.  The audience will get the idea and play along.

In typical theater, an actor holds up a stick, and you make believe it’s a sword. In magic, that sword has to seem absolutely 100 percent real, even when it’s 100 percent fake. It has to draw blood. Theater is “willing suspension of disbelief.” Magic is unwilling suspension of disbelief.   ~Teller

It's true, the audience will believe just about anything...if we make an effort.  You don't have to paint your face white and study mime...but you do have to help the audience pretend.  You just need to do the obvious things.  If you make believe that you're sitting in a car, then you probably should open the door before you stand up.

This video shows how most improv actors make believe with imaginary objects.  It was produced by Sally Smallwood and directed by Chris Besler...and if very funny.  It does however remind us that if we want the audience to believe we're in a car when we're really just sitting in a chiar, we need to act as if the chair was a real car.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkxFbz1a3As?rel=0]

Here is a tip given to me many years ago by a well know improv actor in San Francisco.  We were talking about creating objects with mime and he said, "I'll show you how I deal with that stuff in a scene.  Let's pretend we're doing a scene and you hand me cup of coffee or something."  I started a scene on the spot and said, "hey Frank, I've got that cup of coffee you wanted."  The other actor said, "thanks".  He took the imaginary cup from my hand, turned to the side and pretended to place it on an invisible counter.

Leaving his hands empty...again.

Yeah, that'll work too.

Improv inspired by audience’s secret wishes

I want to be a surgeon when I grow up

Improv theater is almost always comedy.  I’ve seen good committed actors working hard at a serious long form that, despite their best efforts... turned funny. Asking the audience to share personal information can be fun, risky and produce work that is grounded in a more human experience.

Last year I asked audience members to anonymously write secretes on cards and they shared very personal feelings.  For example one said, “I didn’t go back after you.. once I broke up with you.. and I wish I did.”

And most of the secrets spoke of regret or something they’d been hiding.   It was challenging to use the secrets in a way that didn’t bring the evening ‘down’.

So I tried another idea to get audience suggestions that were personal but less ‘dark’.

I handed out index cards and asked audience members to anonymously write down a secret wish or desire.

The results were much more uplifting.  And provided the theme for the scenes that I directed. *

Here are a few of the secrets the audience shared copied here exactly as written:

  • I can fly.
  • I wish I have the ability to become invisible.
  • I always wanted to bathe in a tub of strawberry yogurt with clavichord music paying while being told I was loved beyond belief.
  • To topple an evil regimen with passive resistance
  • I’ve always wanted the ability to time travel
  • I wish I was a Victoria Secret model [exclamation with a heart]
  • I want to be small enough to fit into doll clothes!
  • I wish I was in Paris
  • Swimming through tropical oceans with colorful, supersized fishes.

We were able to use the wishes without making fun of them....well...yes...we had fun with them...but not at the expense of the person who wrote it.

It’s fun.   Just knowing that this is a real secret desire of someone in the audience right now is exciting.  It raises the stakes.

It grounds the players and engages the audience.  And those are good things.

*

Gorilla Theater

at

BATS Improv

.  Directed improv where the director declares a theme and the audience decides if he or she has successfully accomplished it.