Sunday, January 20, 2008

It really does feel like something.

At the Kansas Thespian Conference this weekend, there were three different instructors (including me) teaching improv classes. Rubber Chicken Factory, a long-time participant, teaches games. Someone else did a session on starting a troupe at your school.

Of the kids in my classes, a huge percentage were in troupes at their schools—or wanting to start one. They were super-disciplined (I think maybe once in 5 classes I had to say, “Hey! Focus!”), took huge risks and in general did a fabulous job. Every year I’ve gone, the number of kids in high school improv troupes goes up. And besides forensics and the occasional conference improv competition, there’s nowhere for them to show off for each other. 

City 3 has talked about doing a high school league—and a couple of folks have discussed doing regional groups on their own—and there’s no better time. But that takes a lot of work. And planning. And staffing. And venues. And things like insurance and the safety and butt-covering things you need when you’re going to put yourself in charge of a bunch of teenagers. In the meantime, here are a just few ideas for things local improvisers could do to get high school kids engaged in the community: 

  • Volunteer to coach a high school improv troupe. Pick one, and do it for free. It’s a great way to hone your teaching and directing skills, you’ll get to know some amazing people, and it’s the most rewarding thing you’ll ever do. You can decide how much you can do: once a month? once a week? once a semester? Call your old high school (or ask me for some names) and say, “Hey? Want help?”
  • Design and teach classes targeted at students. Maybe it’s a week-long intensive during the summer. Or weekends a few weeks in a row. Or just a three-hour class once a month. Make it affordable, promote it to drama and forensics teachers, and go.
  • Work with a teacher or school district to do a fundraiser for the school, an issue or the community. Maybe you pull all the troupes in a district together, put a coach with each group, work out for a few weekends, then put up a show to benefit a cause the kids dig. 
So that’s the next generation. It was also a blast to see a bunch of improvisers at Pete and Megan’s last performance with Monkeys With Hand Grenades—which turns out to be the last Monkeys for a while. It was an incredibly fun show—great energy, fun scenes, big risks, and a ginormous house. 

Post show, there was lots of talk about the next Thunderdome. We sat with Nathan and Joe, and I can’t wait to see what the Babelfish guys are coming up with. They promised banter…whee! Megan and Nikki and I will meet for the first time Wednesday to talk about Spite’s format. And right after that I’ll get together with the Scriptease guys to see what they want to do. They’re going to rehearse their butts off, and I know Clay, Rene and Drew will come up with something A. W. E. Some. 

4 comments:

  1. You're going to meet Wednesday? Not at the coffeehouse, right? They've got IFC meetings Wednesday nights.

    Are you thinking Monday?

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  2. Yes Wednesday, no WCH. My living room will have to contain all the funny.

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  3. I just wanted to share a little factoid with you... that line was slightly changed because of who was in the audience. Hooray for improv in a scripted show!

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  4. And hooray for pandering. It made me very happy.

    The fight scene between you and Aaron may have been my favorite.

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