- Take classes. Yeah, yeah, yeah. They cost money...but there's not a good improviser on the planet who hasn't given up a few nights of beer (or a utility bill) (hey, I never said I have a lifetime of responsible choices behind me) to take classes.
- See shows. As many as you can. If you're performing in the fest, you even get a discount (thanks, I-A). See different troupes, different approaches to scenes, different formats. Think about what works and what doesn't.
I have Strong Feelings about festival workshops. Here are some, from a while back:
How I Take Festival Classes: An Approach Developed Over 19 Years: I'm long past the days of instructor/theory collecting. When I started, I was shooting for variety: I signed up for workshops with as many instructors from as many schools and cities as possible to see what techniques clicked. Three-hour samplers are great for exposing you to the main principles of a school of thought. Now I want maximum feedback, so I tend to either take multiple classes with single instructor or repeat classes with someone I've worked with before. The benefits:
- You get more information about that instructor's theory, because their classes usually give you different pieces of the same puzzle.
- You get better feedback, either because the instructors watch you longer and gets a sense of your fall-backs and patterns, or because they get more comfortable with you and can be more direct.
- There's no way you're going to get good at a technique by doing it one time in one workshop—that's why improv classes are usually 6-8 weeks long. Ever do yoga? You do the same poses over and over, going deeper, feeling stronger, becoming more aware of how different muscles move. Same with improv exercises.
(That, by the way, is why I'm signed up to study with Susan Messing and TJ Jagodowski.)
See y'all there.