Five things to expect at your first improv class

Five things to expect at your first improv class

The idea of joining an improv class can be intimidating. The idea of walking into a room full of strangers will make a lot of people’s hearts beat faster. What will the people be like? What will we do in the class? Do I need to be funny? These are all common and understandable questions. This blog will answer those questions and tell you a little about what your first class might be like. 

1) Friendly people

A lot of people do improv to make friends and meet people, so improv classes are very friendly places. Improv attracts all kinds of people, from performers to coders, accountants to health workers students and the unemployed. They are suitable for all ages, backgrounds and types of people. There may be some loud, confident people, but also some people who are shy and reserved. Everyone is welcome. 

Those people who know each other may greet each other enthusiastically, but you will find that improvisers are just as friendly to new people. Just say hi to someone or tell the teacher it is your first session and you will be made very welcome. Besides, going for a drink after the class is almost part of the class itself!

2) Warm ups and pair exercises

The class will probably start with everyone standing in a circle playing game that connects the class together. You might pass a clap round the circle, tell a story together or free associate. You might be naming items on a list or pretending to compete (competition in improv is always pretend). After that, you may do exercises in pairs or smaller groups. Some of which may be in front of the rest of the class if you would like to, but that is never an obligation. It’s a class, not a test!

3) Scenes

Scenes are the building blocks of an improv show. A scene is (normally) a conversation between two people who aren’t you in a place that isn’t where you are. It could be two sisters working on a maths problem or two judges in a sauna after a hard day judging. In scenes you can play anyone you want. Some people will prefer to play big, weird characters and some will prefer to play characters more like themselves. Both are great. In a beginner’s class, your teacher will give you information to start a scene and may even add an exercise to make it easier. And remember: you don’t have to be funny, the improv will do that for you. 

4) The idea of ‘yes-and’

The core idea of improvisation, ‘yes-and’ is how improv scenes are built. If you mime handing me something and say it is a mobile phone, it makes our lives pretty hard if I say ‘No, it is a flapjack’. It is much easier to answer the phone, or try to beat your high score on candy crush or say apologise for dropping it in the sea.

Yes-and doesn’t mean that there is a correct answer or that you have to do anything in a scene or game. My yes-and might be totally different to yours and that’s OK. In fact, that’s great. Improv as an art form celebrates all of our individuality and weirdness.

5) A little bit of nerves

Doing something new can be scary for everyone, but you don’t need to worry; Improv is all about cooperating to build your skills of confidence, creativity and connection. You can’t get it wrong. Improv is a joyful, energising thing with many real, practical benefits and in a class you may well find yourself doing things that you didn’t ever think you could. 

If you have any more specific questions, or would like to join a class or course at the Nursery, email our Education Coordinator Jennifer Jordan on jennifer@thenurserytheatre.com.

Plus we have an 8-week beginner’s course starting in October 2019 and now offer a comprehensive improv training programme, more info here.

Jules Munns
Jules Munns
jules@thenurserytheatre.com

Jules is the Artistic Director of the Nursery Theatre.Jules is the director of Impromptu Shakespeare and a cast member of Happily Never After, both of which are on at the Gilded Balloon during the Edinburgh Fringe 2019.

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