Improv Again

When Friend Kristen was in town way back in late 2012 (again), we went out on the town on Friday. After a nice curry and too much Taj Mahal lager at Little Delhi, we went to the regular improv show from Big City Improv at the Shelton Theater in downtown SF.

It’s a small theater, but clearly part of a thriving scene. It reminded me in many ways of the Wimbledon Studio – slightly broken, many layers of black paint, posters from old shows everywhere, and a slightly chaotic feel. Example: we bought our tickets at the bar just as someone told the barman they had run out of tickets, so they had to use DumDums instead.

We got seats in the front row, and enjoyed a fun show. The usual kind of stuff – a selection of quick games based on audience input and participation. I was encourage to take the stage and act as a puppeteer, manipulating one of the two performers while they attempted to extrapolate from the positions I was putting them in.

After the show, Kristen and I chatted with the cast and told them that we had dabbled in improv a couple of times in the past. It was lots of fun, and great to see how this kind of thing is done in a big city like San Francisco.

Time passed.

Earlier this year, I realised that I needed to get back on stage in some way or other. It was an urgent thing, an itch to be scratched. I went and auditioned at a place in Oakland, but the fee structure was too vague, so I went along to Berkeley Improv in of all places Berkeley, where I joined the Sunday evening (actually night tbh) “Improv for Performance” class.

It turned out to be loads of fun, liberating, exhilarating, exhausting. The group had people from all backgrounds, and all levels of ability. Everyone was keen and ready to learn. After the classes were done at the end of February, we performed a free end-of-class show for friends and family. It was great to be able to get back up there and lark about in front of people. Blind Freeze, Space Objects, Yes And…, Isn’t That Great?, Follow The Thread, Change In Status, I Have A Dream, Opera, Raise The Stakes, all the great exercises and games, some familiar, many new to me.

As soon as the February class was over, I signed up for the March class, and a couple of sessions in, it’s even better. Several alumni rejoined, and I reckon the showcase at the end of this month is going to be a corker.

In addition to that, the teacher Alex invited me and one other class member along to a group called the Berkeley Players, who perform semi-regularly. This was a much more intense session, with very few pauses to catch breath and discuss. We jumped straight from exercise to exercise, and by the end of the session I was even more exhilarated/exhausted. I don’t know if this means I will be performing regularly, but it has got the creative juices flowing once more. I hope to use these new skills and contacts in other fora, perhaps even on the podcast. We’ll see.