online classes v3.0, or maybe 4.2?

online classes v3.0, or maybe 4.2?

It’s autumn already, and that means, amazingly, we have been doing online classes for six months. From scrambling to release our first few online drop ins, to our first courses, the  intensive programme over the summer and now a full winter teaching programme, this year has been, shall we say, intense. Finding the space to reflect has been tough, but it is essential that we do to make sure we are offering the classes and opportunities you want from us. So we have been collecting feedback about how we organise our classes and have made some changes and improvements. This blog will tell you about some of it. 

Expansion of the elective programme

Organised by Stephen Davidson, our elective programme has been very popular and has given us the opportunity to introduce you to a whole new set of teachers from all over the world. Sadly, Stephen is leaving us this autumn, but that doesn’t mean the end of the programme. Our autumn guest electives are being released over the next few weeks. 

One of the regular pieces of feedback we have been receiving is that you wanted more chances to play, so in addition to our Monday night guest electives, we will be adding scenework electives on Wednesdays and small-class longform electives on Saturdays. Longform classes will be smaller (8 students maximum) to give more opportunities to play. These will be at 4pm UK on Saturdays, so the improv mad among you can even do the scenework class and then the longform elective back to back (well, with a thirty minute gap). 

On top of this, we will be continuing our Women’s Workshops and adding a new monthly class for improvisors of colour, masterminded by the lovely Juwel Haque. Details coming very soon.

Adding showings

Many of you asked us for more opportunities to share what you have been doing, so over the course of the autumn, we will be adding showings to many of our courses. These are optional bonuses for those students who want to take part on those courses where it seems appropriate. Plus, if you want more longform opportunities, there is always our online improv jam on a Tuesday evening. 

A wider selection of specialist courses 

We know that some people are going back to improv IRL at the moment (lucky you) and have been looking for specific classes that may not be available where you live. So this autumn we have added lots of more specific courses in things like puppetry, silent scenes, clowning and slowburn, plus the elective sessions mentioned above. If you have suggestions for particular courses which we are not offering, drop us a mail and we’ll see what we can do! 

More feedback in classes

This is a big one. Lots of you are seeing online improv as an opportunity to connect with teachers and players that you may not normally have access to and want to get the most out of it. So in our teacher training, we have been thinking about how to give useful close feedback in our classes, as well as adding our small-class longform electives to make that easier. Plus, remember that our Saturday Scenework drop in is all about just that. But don’t worry, if you just want to mess about and make it up, there are lots of opportunities for that as well.  

Clearer pathways and levelling

Improv is not about collecting levels and classes and the Nursery has always made a point of being welcoming to performers who have trained at other schools, but as we scrambled to move our classes online and coordinate with the Maydays, some of our levelling got a bit confusing. So from the autumn, all classes will be on a standard four-level system so you can see exactly what experience level we are looking for in each class. That doesn’t mean we are shutting anybody out, just dividing the classes clearly for everybody’s best experience. If you trained elsewhere, you are still more than welcome. One of the best things about online classes is how easily improv styles can mix together. These levels are in the blurb for each class, but you can mail us if there are any queries and our teachers will be able to advise you of what course you might enjoy next. 

A note on classes and venues IRL

A lot of people are asking about this. When will we be running classes offline? Will there be a new Nursery building? (There almost was just before lockdown and we are very thankful the contract didn’t get signed.) The answer to all of these questions is we don’t know at the moment. Our recent survey told us that, even though it might be theoretically possible to run offline classes under the current legislation, less than a quarter of you would want to do so. Given this, the start of winter coming in and the instability of the situation, we are anticipating being online-only at least until Christmas. We feel the risk just isn’t worth it. Whether we will be looking for a new venue when the situation changes, that is just impossible to say! 

There are still lots of small changes to be made, but the above is a start. And you can always email us on classes@thenurserytheatre.com or use this survey to tell us what we should be doing in the future. 

Thanks to everyone who has come to a class, watched a show or even just retweeted a post. It’s been a tough few years for the Nursery, but as we hit our eleventh year, we are looking forward to eleven more, whatever the circumstances.

Jules Munns
Jules Munns
jules@thenurserytheatre.com

Jules is the Artistic Director of the Nursery Theatre. Jules is also the director of Impromptu Shakespeare and a member of the Maydays, as well as one half of Ten Thousand Million Love Stories.

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