Learning Progress

Progress on Learning Project…

January:

  • If there is one thing that I have noticed over the course of this project, it is that I am very camera-shy! I love to teach drama in the classroom, but when it comes to my own acting and filming, I feel very shy and reserved. Tara and I have been working on our ability to stop thinking so much when we engage in these improv activities, and saying what first comes to mind.

February:

  • I am beginning to feel more comfortable with my ability to think on my feet.  Before, I often took a while to react and felt almost “silly” in my improvisational skills, but I can feel myself opening up to the “randomness” of improv. One thing that I am hoping to accomplish in this learning project is to keep calm during the improv and not laugh while it is going on. In many of the improv games that we have done so far, I can see myself laughing or smiling throughout.
  • One benefit to video taping the improv versus practicing the improv off camera is that we can make corrections based on what we noticed in the videos. Often times we do not consider what we look or sound like to an audience, and by being able to visualize the improvisations, I feel that we can become better improvers!
  • Tara tweeted about our first improv video of our learning project, and these are the responses that she got on her blog from colleagues and fellow “improvers”.

messagesfrommyjourney says:

  1. I put out a tweet asking for advice from my former high school teacher/improv comedian and here are the tweets I got back for you gals! (Might be helpful to read from the bottom up, i just hit copy and paste)

    @courosa @AWoiden #ecmp355 Look them up and give them a try!
    In reply to Alec Couros

    @courosa @AWoiden #ecmp355 “Yes and” is a great warm up game. As is “what are you doing?”, “hitch-hiker”, and “switch” or “freeze”.

    @jojo7415 @courosa @AWoiden Yeah. The girls kept getting stuck because they played less and thought more. Improv spontaneous. #ecmp355

    @courosa @AWoiden #ecmp355 Asking questions and saying “no” will slow a scene down or put the pressure on the other person.

    @courosa @AWoiden #ecmp355 Accepting other people’s ideas and saying “yes and” will always move a scene forward.

    @courosa @jojo7415 @awoiden … And say it with dripping innuendo

    @courosa @jojo7415 @awoiden I know 2 things about improv – answer yes to any ? – and use “if you know what I mean” at after every sentence

    @courosa @jojo7415 @AWoiden for example, everytime that you say the word “sure”, one of the other people will jump up and run around chair

    @courosa @jojo7415 @AWoiden my favorite is to do an improv where you gi give cues that trigger a response and then try to fit them in to skit

  2. First off, kudos to you both for recording and sharing this with us. It certainly seems like you are having fun.

    I’m not sure how much I can offer in the way of suggestions, but I think the best observation, (from the list above), is “The girls kept getting stuck because they played less and thought more. Improv spontaneous.” Of course, being spontaneous can be very, very hard. Also, giving yourself permission to let go and not think about something usually doesn’t come naturally for most people. (Well, at least not more me.)

    Maybe just allow yourselves to say the first thing that comes to your mind no matter how silly it may sound? Or, maybe try to include items that are happening in your local current events?

    It will be interesting to see how your improv warmup sessions change over the period of your learning project. My guess is, as you allowed yourselves to “play more” and “think less”, there will be more spontaneity and you will find yourselves riffing off each other very easily.

  3. tarabaade says:

    Thanks for the tips and comments Allie and Zachary! Very helpful! One of the things I found hardest about this was over-thinking it. Hopefully I overcome this!

  4. So glad that you captured the Twitter conversation.

    Do try to connect with @jojo7415 if you can – he’s a good friend of mine and has done improv for many years with the Saskatoon Soaps. He’d be a great connection!

  5. Lee W says:

    Tara, I think I can offer some pointers for this exercise. It’s been a while since I’ve done any improv myself, but one thing that I was always taught was to listen to each other. Improv is not a competitive sport ( although it has been portrayed that way sometimes). You really have to work together to draw out the story.

    Open statements allow your partner to add to the improv. Closed or random statements give the improv nowhere to go.

    However as you have discovered improv takes a bit of practice.

    All the best. Can’t wait to see more of the vids of your progress.

    Cheers,
    Lee Winik
    @leewin

  6. tarabaade says:

    Thanks Alec, I will! Thanks for the useful tips Lee! I definitely will work on that the next time I try.

  7. chris says:

    yes, and, is a warmup, but it is hard to sustain beyond 2 or 3 exchanges. It is a great exercise to teach students how to build scenes vertically by accepting offers. A common improv mistake is blocking ideas rather than accepting them. I use this activity to build an accepting reflex in my students (so often the default reflex is to block and go for the cheap laugh). A better game that can be played ad nauseum is Get Out As Fast As You Can. It takes accepting to a new level, and scenes between skilled players can go on forever! Hope this helps!

March:

  • This month I feel as if we have become more comfortable with the concept of improv. I am curious, however, what it would be like to do improv with another peer? Perhaps a student? Tara and I have been given the opportunity to teach improv at a rural school with the grade 5/6 class and the 11/12 class. I love to teach drama, so I am looking forward to working alongside students. Being able to apply my own learning to my soon to be professional career will be a wonderful experience. I cannot wait!
  • Tara and I went into a small town school today to do an improv workshop, and we had the opportunity to work with the grade 5/6 and the grade 11/12 classes. We spent 50 minutes with each group and we had a lot of fun. Here is a picture of my Twitter feed in regards to going out to the school to share our learning with others:

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