Several times a month I am asked, “Who has the best improv classes?” or “Where should I go for improv training?”. Here is the answer I always honestly give, “I don’t know.”
I hear you asking why does this joker have a blog, yet no answers.
The reason I can’t give a definitive-one-right-answer to this question is because it is a personal question, hence different for each. The most basic catalyst question you need to answer is, “Why am I taking an improv classes?”
Among possible answers: To be on stage, for my resume, to broaden/hone my skills or (I know this may sound strange but) personal enrichment. If the first answer is a consideration and you are looking for stage-time, I mean, real stage-time in front of an audience, you will want to choose a program that offers student/class shows as part of the program otherwise you may wait years. Literally, years.
After you have decided why you want to take an improv class and find the program that best fits your needs/wants go to that theatre and see some shows. Each Theatre has a particular style of improv and you may be more naturally suited for a given style. Talk to the performers after the show see what type of vibe you get from them. You may find it is not the place for you. You may find you feel completely at home (FYI-many theatres will ask you to leave if you strip down to your roos and start going through their fridge).
I’ve given this advice about getting a feel for the people and have been met with the opinion that it does not matter if you get along with the people, its showbiz not show-friends. This is true. It is also true that you will be giving these people a fair chunk of change and spend an equal fair amount of time with these same people. Why not make it pleasant for yourself? I’m sure you’ve heard the old theatre saying, “You can’t have any drama on the stage if there is real conflict between the actors”.
Kick that up a notch because we’re talking improv and things will come out of you in scenes which you never intended or even knew. I’m sure we’ve all seen how uninteresting those arguing scenes turn out in improv.
My ultimate advice? Follow the TAN idea, like everything we do in this business, choosing a place to train should be approached with common sense and the presence of mind of why we are doing it.
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