Class Spotlight: Advanced Improv

January 06, 2021 | By Kimmi Neuschulz

We have a bunch of amazing new classes starting up this February! I was able to chat with one of our incredibly talented teachers, Tia, about her upcoming ‘Advanced Improv’ class.

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Tell me a little bit about yourself and your relationship with improv.

My relationship with improv began in graduate school way back in the early to mid 90’s! I started with a group at Dobama theatre in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, which was a theatre that was close to my school, Case Western Reserve University. That’s where I started doing improv, and it was called The Night Kitchen!

What should someone expect coming to one of your improv classes?

My improv classes, especially now that they’re online, are all long form. And often my long form projects mean that my kids would need to be prepared to take on a character or multiple characters for several classes and sometimes even an entire session, rather than just a handful of one-off 30 min classes.

Why do you love teaching improv?

Improv is acting, meaning that improv forces me to listen and to be present at all times. Even when having lines, I always ask the question: What if this is the first time I’ve ever had to say this? In improv, it’s always the first time you’ve ever uttered these words in this particular way because it isn’t planned. If we approach acting like improv, it’s off the cuff. It forces me to expect all acting to feel real and in the moment. I love it because it’s immediate, you don’t have any time to think. You just have to react physically and emotionally to the person or stimulus that’s in front of you.

Can you reveal what’s coming up in your new improv class this February?

Well, I can’t give away too much. But what I can say is that last semester we put the 7 Dwarfs on trial for the murder of the Evil Queen and it was incredible. We created a courtroom, and the actors had to take on being the dwarfs, witnesses, prosecution and defense and the “trial” spanned over the course of the whole semester. During the course of the “trial” the actors learned that the 7 Dwarfs were real people with real names, but there were laws in this fairytale land that stripped the dwarfs of their civil rights, and it started to look a lot like Black Lives Matter. It was deep, and I’d like to continue the idea of how stories come from a real place, and how we can look at our own lives in a very different way. Not saying that we’ll put another fairytale character on trial for next session, but I really loved taking on characters in fiction and seeing how art or something you believe is made up can be looked at as something real and possible.

Registration is still open for Advanced Improv! Having been a student of Tia myself, I can guarantee that it’s going to be a super fun time. You won’t want to miss it!

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