Our Curriculum The Improv Conspiracy Workshop Program
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Improv Level 1 - Introduction to Long Form Improv
This level is designed to introduce you to The Improv Conspiracy's approach to long form improvised comedy. No prior acting or improv experience is required.
Each class session starts with some fun warm-up exercises designed to help you to get a bit silly and to bond with your classmates.
After the warm-up you'll move onto some enjoyable exercises designed to help you learn some of the basic skills we use when doing improvised scenes on stage.
After the exercises there will be time for you to perform open-ended scenes. This is where the real magic happens! You'll be asked to call on that day's lesson, plus anything you've worked on during the prior weeks.
By the end of the 8 weeks you'll be capable of creating and sustaining interesting and entertaining 3-minute scenes that are completely improvised. Your class will then put on a 30-minute long improvised show for your friends and family, featuring a blend of truthful storytelling and improv scenes inspired by the stories!
Specific Skills and Topics Covered:
- An introduction to the core tenets of improvisation: agreement, listening, commitment & support
- Truth in comedy: how to use truthful storytelling as a way to generate interesting ideas for comedic scenes
- You are enough: the power of playing characters similar to yourself in a comedic scene. What would you say in real life? It's probably the right thing to say here!
- How to create and play an intelligent character with a stong point of view (POV)
- How to flesh out your characters with rich history and philosophy
Improv Level 2 - Character & Relationship
Now that you've been introduced to improv and have actually performed in front of a live audience, it's time for a new challenge!
Our Level 2 course focuses on two very important aspects of long form improvisation: character & relationship
Character is all about what we can bring to the scene. The most interesting characters might have accents, physicalities, turns of phrase, points of view, emotions, etc. We aim to play deep, rich characters that leverage common archetypes we all know from the world around us.
Relationship is all about how your character gets on with that of your scene partner. What's the shared history between these two people? Their empathetic connection? The subtext that lies just beneath the surface of the words which are being said?
Improv Level 3 - The Game of the Scene
You're bold enough to step out on stage, and capable of playing some wonderful characters. Fantastic! Now let's talk about what goes into making our scenes comedic in nature.
Our Level 3 course features a slightly more advanced look at the core building block of long form improvisation: the scene.
You'll get a chance to do a few scenes each week, while experimenting with some of the most influential theories of improv scenework being taught today: the game of the scene as defined by the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, and Position Play as defined by Miles Stroth.
Learning about the game of the scene will help you recognise and play with the comedic engines at work in your improvised scenes and scripted sketches.
Position Play stresses the importance of listening to your scene partner in order to discover which of the four basic scene types (Realistic, Straight/Absurd, Alternate Reality & Character) we're most likely inside of. Once you know what scene type you're in, the hard work is done: you can often simply "play your position" and have an entertaining experience!
Improv Level 4 - Introduction to Harold
Congratulations, your scenework is in fine form after three levels of practice! Now it's time to learn about the Harold, the standard improv format of the Improv Conspiracy.
You'll learn how to perform and draw information from openings, which are the tools that allow us to expand a single suggestion into 30 minutes of material.
Once we have first beats down, we'll work on ways to bring themes, games and characters (but not story/plot) back in our second and third beats.
We'll briefly introduce group games, and get you ready to perform your first Harold in front of an audience!
Improv Level 5 - Intermediate Harold
You've performed your first Harold in front of an audience. It was quite fun and the audience enjoyed it... so what's next? PRACTICE!
In this level you'll learn heaps more about our favourite format, do additional bonding with your team of classmates, and get the experience and confidence necessary to put on polished Harold performances.
In addition to running numerous "normal" Harolds, in the second half of the course we'll apply various constraints to the format to show you how small tweaks can have huge effects on the finished product. You might encounter location-constraint Harolds, thematic Harolds, the Bat (Harold in the Dark), silent Harolds, gibberish Harolds, or any other sort of Harold that your instructor is enthusiastic about that day!
Special Elective Workshops
From time to time we hope to offer elective courses focusing on special skills or improv formats. These will be announced as they come available, and may have prerequisites.
Sketch Level 1 - Introduction to Sketch Writing
No prior improv or sketch comedy experience required!
Our Sketch Level 1 curriculum launched in late 2016, and is intended to give anyone the tools and theory to start writing sketch comedy for the stage and screen in the tradition pioneered by respected American comedy schools like The Second City and the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre.
The class includes a description of The Improv Conspiracy Theatre's approach to sketch comedy, which is very similar to what we teach in Improv Level 3 - The Game of the Scene, except written instead of made up on the spot.
Each week students will watch and analyse sketch comedy videos as a group, do table reads of student-written sketches, and discuss possible ways to improve them via rewrites in a collaborative writers' room environment. Each week will feature a different homework assignment (e.g. topical current events sketches, character-based sketches, genre parody sketches, etc.) and a discussion of best practices to ensure that everyone is well-equipped to tackle the assignment.
Students who do their homework each week will leave the course with at least six original sketches, at various levels of polish depending on how much effort they elect to spend doing the recommended rewrites.
As this is a pure writing class, there is no end-of-term performance associated with this workshop.
Sketch Level 2 - Creating a Sketch Show
Let's get those sketches up on stage! In this class you'll work with your fellow students, the instructor and a director to create an completely original sketch comedy show at the Improv Conspiracy Theatre.
The class will work as a team, pitching and brainstorming together in class and doing group writing assignments outside of class. The collective will come up with heaps of great content that couldn't have been created by any individual on their own.
Note: it's our hope that every student will get at least one sketch they've contributed to writing into the final show. However, this comes down to the quality and quantity of your work submitted throughout the term. It's possible to act in your own sketches, however the director may also pull actors from the wider Improv Conspiracy community.