Showing posts with label spontaneity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label spontaneity. Show all posts

Friday 26 June 2020

The Camera: Film Acting and Improv (Online Class)

With improv going online, what do improvisers need to know? They are no longer creating theatre, but films. These will be a style or genre of films in themselves. Exactly what it entails is up to the creator(s). Nonetheless, learning from films to improve our improv online is valuable. In this series of classes, I begin with a focus on the camera. I shall mention other areas (some of which will have their own focused class).

Book and click!

What the audience sees has always been important in our improv, and now it is even more! I will guide participants through the various thoughts on using the camera to deliver the content desired. We discuss the current availability to achieve these goals, but we will use a lot of practical trialling. This class (and the series) will enrich your improv online through increasing your understanding of the form of media and performance. There is a wealth of useful and usable knowledge that has been integrated into the class that can deepen your expression and artistry for the effect you are looking for.

These classes can be taken as one-off lessons about the area of film acting and improv; however, attending all of them will only increase your abilities. It is recommended to take this class before others, but this is not required.

Nathan Keates (Nathan Improv) is a trainer, improvisation teacher and a performing arts teacher; that is only a distinction on subject. He trained in film acting in 2005 - 2008. Nowadays, Keates is a theatre-maker, improviser and clown. He is so addicted to improv, impro, improvisation that he researches it too. The current project is on autism and improv comedy. Nathan began teaching improvisation in 2006 and quickly got teaching in another country, the States. In 2007, he found a love for applied improvisation for autistic people as it sprung to reality there and then. He was teaching autistic people, and people with other diagnoses too, in America. The progression has remained seeking the new and the wonderful in his practice and his teaching.
Be kind, be honest and be taking my class!

Click and book now!

Many thanks.

PLEASE NOTE: this is an online class and will use breakout rooms; there will be technical issues to overcome, but we will manage all issues together and swiftly.

If you cannot afford the class, as long as I have Gold Standard bookings I can let you participate without cost. Please get in touch:

Sunday 13 January 2019

Guest blog: Why Improv?

Having discovered improv comedy a year ago and having fallen under its spell, I find myself trying to explain what compels me to return again and again to what feels like its magic.

Having dived deep into another weekend course this one called “Efficiency in Scenework” with Nathan Keates. I find myself already missing its end, even though I’m only half way through.

So the word magic seems apt.  This is the best way I can explain what occurs in improv. But don’t get me wrong it’s not that all that happens is magic, it’s just that sometimes magic happens.

And what is this magic I hear you ask? Well I don’t know what it is, but except it brings a feeling of joy. A place where you are in a world of imagination, on the cusp of discovery and where you sometimes find gold.

Perhaps we should call it fools gold, because once you discover it, it has gone again and that can never be repeated in the same way, but it then it does return in another, later place, often in one you are least expecting. And at that moment its like you’ve been kissed with delight and often a response of laughter. One more note about improv is that the magic it can be found in watching others find their own gold and also it is often found in collaboration with others.

One area I have had a similar experience is working with clay, in which out of something formless something emerges and often almost without intention and impersonally. It's as if we are responding to the clay in some symbiotic dance between creator and potential where on some occasions there is some magical conclusion, and also sometimes not.

So there is something more generally to be said about being in touch with this creative edge and being in the moment and it being impersonal.

Improv is one place I can find this, but creativity in any form can be the edge we need. To be present, playful and enquiring allows us to drop the fa├žade that we are in charge of this manifesting present, we are a part of the play but not in charge of the script, as it is continually unfolding before us. At this edge perhaps we feel most in touch with the creative spirit within us and creativity around us, and it feels right and we feel good and we want more.

So why improv?  
I think it’s about the creative magic, of how you lose yourself in the present, and sometimes out of it comes a real present. For which I say thank you please come again. And I do.

By Chris 

Wednesday 28 November 2018

The ‘Improv And’ Series: Anxiety

In this series of ‘Improv And’ blogs, I shall be quickly discussing the use of improv for certain diagnoses and other uses. For this posting, the topic is anxiety. This is close to my research and an important topic in modern society.

Picture from uofmhealth

Anxiety can be diagnosed in various ways, this includes Social Anxiety Disorder, General Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and more. These all have differing criteria for being labelled with, which you can look at on the NHS website. Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), as well all of them, impact life in a major way. SAD makes social situations become an overwhelming fearful circumstance. As it affects everyday activities, relationships and people’s self-confidence, there is need to find a solution. What is also the case is that many people feel anxious and may not be diagnosable, but still require help. There are many remedies that are offered. Some people found improv comedy to be beneficial. 

The research suggests that using improv comedy could be an effective intervention. When we improvise, the basic requirement of the participants are that they support one and another. This equates to a room full of people that are being non-judgmental and accepting. A social situation, which includes everyone knowing that others are in the same position, means that no one will be forming negative perceptions on anyone - not that this would occur in any other group, anyway. Also, improv forms communities. These communities and new friendships build trust in the participants and create long-lasting relationships that help sustain positivity and a supportive group. Furthermore, the fact that we do comedy, create funny moments, means that we gain laughter from watching and participating. This laughter leads to catharsis and can notably be healing. A group of people laughing together forms stronger bonds and builds trust once more. 

It is important to state that improv comedy is not therapy and should not be used like it is. The advice organisations suggest is to attend these classes as well as the therapy that professionals advise. There are programmes that are run that use improv and therapy in one intervention; these are usually run by therapists that are keen to bring the value of improv to anxious people. In some cases, improv has out-performed therapy. For example, an intervention that mixed Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and improv, gained the same results in a shorter time. This was found to be better through the use of externalisation (an outward focus) as it gives a positive affect. 

Overall, the benefits of improv could be: 

  • Being with supportive and non-judgmental people; 
  • Forming positive feelings through community-building and new friendships; 
  • And laughter as having catharsis and can be healing.

Monday 22 October 2018

5 ways to instantly have an engaging improv show without performing ‘better’

How many times have you read that you are not good enough as an improviser? There are countless top tips that will make you the best of the best at performing improv comedy. However, do they work and make you better? It is unlikely that a few words will change why you perform. It is not how you perform that needs addressing (most of the time), as you've sat through all those workshops; you've probably gone to tons of international teachers too.
Their value comes when teaching that other way that you haven't done yet… or digging deeper into that field of improv, which you currently desire greatly. Subsequently, this post is not about those still developing into their interest in a specific realm of improv comedy. Although, you are enough too: This is true even when developing, as you're enough to do what form you know (in the way you know it). In any case, there is more to your improv than you.
The top tips of today are about what can be done without addressing your acumen at acting funnily, or performing in general.

  1. Use theatrical lighting

The comedic theatre, or dramatic for some, that you present is a kind of theatre that people watch. Therefore, to make it engaging and the best tip of these, use lighting effectively. A simple white wash state across the stage is not a dynamic and interesting image to look at. The technician of the theatre is talented and can be spontaneous. If you let them play with you and create the atmosphere of the scene through striking visuals, then your production will immediately become brilliant.
If you wish to work out why this is true, find that reoccurring blog bit that asks you to state whether the group photo is a ska band promotional photo or an improv group. Nonetheless, the real topic is not on promotional photos (even though the use of them are advocated too). Have a look at what photos are thrilling to see of general scripted theatre and compare then to captured improvised theatre. The expectation is that improvised theatre misses what those glorious lamps create for the audience. It is a generalisation that does not fit every improv comedy production that has ever been made, but the point being made is what is being endorsed.   

  1. Have musicians

It is obvious that if adding great imagery to your work is useful, then putting in sound too would be wise. Using multiple musicians for a strong, textured, sound adds quality to the production by bringing about an atmosphere. The American history or modern improv comedy used pianists to add to their sets, which worked well. In the modern world, some use electronic music. Either way, the additional sound supports the improvised scenes. For example, a horror film without the music and sounds behind the action would not be scary at all. Onstage, a strong silence is stronger when there has been sound. The musician can set so much about the scene, including scenic details as well as the ambiance.
The contradiction to this is that it must fit the production being offered. This only means using the right musicians. The other issue is that musicians aren't always available and costly. There was one production that used a odd instrument as the sole music to the production and the guy ran off with most of the profit of the run… and didn't really do a lot. Unfortunate, but the point to take is to use the right instruments and reputable musicians. In that production, it was a random find that was gambled on. Create the work, don't let it create you: as the fools’ world suggests.

  1. Use appropriate staging and sets

When you enter a theatre, what do you see? The auditorium might be gorgeous and stimulating the brain. However, if you're not in an old or fancily designed space, then you will need to alter what else your audience sees. They look at the stage. What does that tell them that is relevant to your production? You could have a full-scale set, if that's the design of the show, or something more simple… and the word keeps appearing… an atmosphere. There is no reason to not add something for your audience to get intrigued by to start with. They came to see your production, you might as well congratulate them on doing so by giving them a night to remember.

  1. Have an audience that came for what you are presenting (less ambiguity)

Do you know what production you're performing? Will the audience, which may love that production, be aware what it is? It seems simple to say, but how frequently do improv comedy companies set the audience in the right frame for their events? The answer, even for someone who is well aware of such, is not often and rarely. This is also on the thought to create your work, the ‘why perform’.
Many people rely on that marketable gimmick that alludes to what they are performing to sell their tickets. It works, obviously. A sustainable production on the back of a well understood genre, famed cultural classic or person will enable the new spectator to improv to instantly feel acquainted. However, there are a lot of them that exist, and they are not all the same. How do production companies frame their version of Hamlet? Audiences mostly know what the play is, but if you are setting it in 1930s with WW2 - I am certain (not only due to recently hearing about something similar) that they want to know. The purist Shakespeare fans will not want to come to be disappointed. This is the same for improv purists with what you may be doing with your productions.
Therefore, sell your production and not just the gimmick. Furthermore, do this so as to get your audience that you deserve and who would love to see your production. Know what you are selling and tell people what it is and not a vague overview of what a Harold is. Of course, everyone has done it and probably will slip into doing so still; however, let’s try to be clear.

  1. Stop clenching the buttocks about achieving the form

Once you have sold the production, you must perform it… however, there is little to nothing worse that a bunch improvisers trying to do their production. The form is just the ‘house you shit in’ (as per Messing; the year I first heard her say this is forgotten, otherwise I would state it here). Hence, the need to not be overly concerned with it. Leave the process of building and guiding your production to your director, or coach (the person in the audience, hopefully) watching you. On numerous occasions, there have been shows that did not meet the performer’s desires - this gets in your way: it is a greater problem when you are performing and the director and/or producer and have so much hope and aspiration for the production.
So, remember that you are onstage to improvise: improvise first and let the form exist based on rehearsal and not mental capacity to recall what you ‘should’ be doing. No one wants to see you ‘should on yourself’ (Razowsky; I am sure I first heard this from him before meeting in person).

The obvious problem with all of these tips is that you may not have the facilities or resources to do them. On the other hand, you can manage something. A small stage can still be lit well. A empty room above a pub can have an audience knowing what they have come to see. Fundamentally, it has to fit your event. If these don't work due to your audience type, your production, then the reality is that all the above are being used the way your production requires. Engage in your art and theatre with your audience, in the way you design it. Lastly, remember that not all of your improv can be improvised.

Tuesday 28 May 2013

The Show May Just Go [February 2011]

Past Articles were written for Ludus Ludius Improv.

#3: Improvisation (youth)

The Show May Just Go [February 2011]

Certain change is in the air. Ludus Ludius has an update. What is the news to tell? Theatre funding cuts are forcing many long-time survivors to now struggle. The air is thin and so will peoples hair line. Soon enough the high rocking musical, Hair will have to be called Bald. Still nonetheless after the cast causing audiences lung cancer from smoking onstage I think baldness is the least of the issues there.

Really now, change is most certainly about. We are focusing on less community or theatrical endeavours (if we can let some projects go) and more on youth and applied improvisation. However this means gathering improvisers together for a tighter network and community for performers. Ludus Ludius looks at what we can really do to overcome the depressive period of financial struggle to achieve the most. What I think is to combine minds and utilise everyones skill. If someone can juggle, can we improvise with it? If someone tap dances, of course we can improvise with it. If someone can milk a cow, we can definitely improvise with it. Any route into improvisation is said, a lot, to work better when you are not just a performer. I have once heard a group of scientists that started a group and there was a magnificent quality to the production that occurred. Ludus Ludius are on the search for more youngsters between the ages of eleven and eighteen years of age. In order to make this possible what the youth groups need is appropriate workshopping spaces for training young improvisers. Anyone who is able to help or wants to learn to improvise can get in touch in the usual manner,
However, the show may just go. For most in the industry of culture or entertainment it has been and doubtlessly will be the show must go on. However, with cuts this is mighty troublesome and I think we should change the statement. For sure we can when it comes to the lovely art form of improvisation. We start a show and who knows what can happen. The format may alter as we go along, such as freeing the format that I have workshopped last year with some experienced players. For example, In this clip we see the freedom of the players to improvise with whatever happens. Every poster I try to design for a new show turns out as this at the moment. (But that is the whole reason I began improvising). The show may just go also, because we may have one show, or it could take flight and we have struck the lucky bell of Tokyo and here we come. Either way after funding cuts and sad looks of vast amount of faces we turn to our youth society to seek the improvements. Get the opportunity for spontaneous workings to work and the future can look bright.

To see the bright light of the future that is on display ask your local youth centre to get Ludus Ludius Youth to perform their TV-style improvised comedy production, Shock The Geek. (We are yet to pilot it and test out the games that the humorous blighters play).

Thank you for your attention and don't forget to email anything to

Mouse That Soared [December 2010]

Past articles were written for Ludus Ludius Improv.

#2: Improvisation (General)

Mouse That Soared [December 2010]

The article was in the Daily Mirror on Friday 12th November 2010. There I was sat in Chapter Arts looking for a interesting article. What I saw from this mouse was delightful. The article explained that the mouse was after food. This 'little fella' is just like an improvisation player, or improviser, as us little fellas are also after our food. Food being something we need and like.

Our little fella in this article was keeping his eye on the food and
climbed up an axe handle and soared through the air for the delicious reward. His leap was not based on the possibility that he (or she) may fail. The little fella didn't calculate or hesitate about how he (or she) may get to the other side. Therefore, our little fella risked without pause for what he (or she) desired.

Each time us little fellas climb up our axe handle onto the stage we do so by hurling ourselves into the unknown. If its just for a grain of corn that is enough. We risk failure and we do not hesitate and certainly we cannot calculate. (There has been times were we end up in a mathematical problem and then we quickly work it out and say it, but this is not what I mean). By all means there is no hurry, the little fella didn't rush up the axe and dive dive dive. Alike us we keep our eye on the food and steadily explore and soar. The air is our ground. The heights are the wonder. The sensation is our stimulus. The snapper (photographer) for the little fella that made it all happen for the mouse, he is our watcher too. They snap us every moments we offer. Our snappers make the show.

Our audiences like to see our risk. That's what they snap up. The offer, the building something together, the unknowing and risk. The photo caught a mouse soaring, This is just as delightful as if we saw it in person. This, thus, means that no matter how rapid fire the manouevre is there will still be pleasure from it. Same risk, same goodness. The snapper was Scott, 33 year old. He had taken other brilliant photographs too. The main reason he is worthwhile mentioning further is because he said, "it was a challenge." Risk is a challenge, we indulge it.

Young Spontaneity [October 2010]

Past Articles were written for Ludus Ludius Improv.

#1: Improvisation (Youth)
Young Spontaneity [October 2010]

It is human nature to be spontaneous. When we are young toddlers we are intrigued by a lot. This state of being is useful. We learn we discover and we dont hold any prejudice over what we discover or see. As adults it is remarkably the opposite. However we still have no choice to be spontaneous.
What changes the inquisitive nature of the child as we grow up? Keith Johnstone blames the education system. This could well be true, but what I see is more than that. Its the social implications of being seen as a bit too risky, a bit too wild. A person that can and will do anything at any point is too much to comprehend. In a romantic relationship its a common request that, I want my partner to be more spontaneous. Why is this a request? You play too safe and we get bored. What life can be when we are more spontaneous is therefore not boring.

Even as an audience in watching an improv show, if the players keep doing the safe games in the same roles in a classic format, then it does become more tedious and too safe. (Short-form improvisational comedy shows are classically formatted by various games played which have players in certain roles in the game  the scenes that are created are never the same; however the format can be).

We do not like feeling safe: What is a mid-life crisis? Is it someone who has lived their life without risk and change? If this is an agreeable statement, then perhaps our young community needs more spontaneity to allow this to continue through their lives. If its not an agreeable statement, then we can further the connection, but lets leave that to another time.

The reason that this article is written is due to Ludus Ludius Youth having been run for awhile now and the experience of the young improvisational players having sporadic imaginations or the polar opposite. We are in fact aiming for the more difficult task  not because of a personal choice, but as its the more suitable option for the players. Tight, restrictive rules are seemingly always too much. Freer scene work is preferable. Personally, every time that we explore something new, be it a new group or age range then we all learn and discover something new.

Young spontaneity in these days is highly interesting. Do you want to watch? Do you want to participate? Do you think we should keep spontaneity flowing through all our life, not just the very young?

Its easy to share your thoughts and get involved with this, email and join our mailing list or share thoughts and ask to part-take.