Award-Winning Second City™ Alumnus Brian Smith leads weekly Improv workshops at the Toronto Fringe’s Creation Lab in the Centre for Social Innovation [CSI]. This particular Improv workshop focuses less on Improv ‘games’ and more on honest interaction between players to create scenes. The results are no less hilarious, but the process may create wider applications of the art form for better relationships, creative writing, & personal/professional growth.
6 week program – Year Round – Newbies Welcome – $150 (plus tax)
Toronto Fringe Creation Lab, 720 Bathurst St. , 4th floor
“Brian is a perfect improv teacher. He makes everyone feel comfortable, has a ton of experience, and balances clear instruction with good humour. The class itself is a ton of fun, providing a break from the day-to-day and an opportunity to gain new communication and interpersonal skills.”
Executive Director, New York City
Centre for Social Innovation
”Brian’s improv class is the highlight of my week. And I lead an exciting life! I never imagined how everything that I’m learning is so applicable to my work and life in general. Plus, Brian is an inspiring (not to speak of hilarious) teacher. Highly recommended.”
Claire, 2012 student
“Brian is a transformational teacher. He has transformed me from a long-haul truck into a large robot with deadly weapons”
Rob, 2012 student
The main idea behind these exercises is to re-learn how to ‘play’.
We all knew how to do this quite naturally as children, but as adults most of us have learned to not ‘goof around’. Allowing ourselves to play is essential to good theatre and to our sanity as humans.
This can be immeasurably helpful when it comes to thinking on your feet at work, speaking in front of others, and generally enjoying life more.
You may have heard the accepted theory that our brains are divided into two halves. One side is the logical, calculating side of our thinking. The other is the spontaneous, creative side of our mind.
Obviously we need to have both sides to get through life, but most of us have overworked the linear side and let the creative side get soft and lazy. Because many of these exercises depend upon saying the first thing, they exercise our spontaneous brain side.
We must learn to allow our instincts (or muse or subconscious or whatever we call it) to carry us through the scenes. When that side gets going, you won’t believe some of the things that you will come up with.
As improvisers, what we are aiming for is to discover the ‘truth’ of the moment on stage and to develop the ability to stay in that moment. By doing this, scripted lines [& speeches] start to sound like they’ve been said for the first time. These exercises are immeasurably helpful in that regard.
This process is and must remain continuous. Relax, it will happen.
The learning process will not be consistent. There will be growth spurts; moments during the exercises when you will have awakenings and flashes of brilliance.
There will be weeks where you feel like you’re stuck or even going backward. Remind you of life? I thought so. I am so clever.
More on Improv
At Best: You will open up new neural pathways in your mind. These new (or more likely re-newed) brain waves will give you new insight into human interaction and empower your life with creative powers you had no idea were inside you. In short: you will become superhuman; a demi-god(ess).
At Least: You will get out of the house, do something different one night a week meet some other people who are getting out of their houses and doing something different that doesn’t involve heroin. You will be given the opportunity to explore/heighten re-discover your creative side in a safe and caring/structured environment.
We have made a contract.
I am committed to providing a safe/nurturing environment in which you may explore. I will have a curriculum that is methodical and flexible. I will keep track of your progress and provide non-judgmental feedback at appropriate times (that is not to say the feedback won’t be critical, but it will always be constructive with an aim to help your continued growth). Relax.
You have agreed to join in the exercises with an open mind and respect for the others in the class. You are going to take risks, give of yourself to the work and trust that some good will come out of it. You have agreed to pay, show up for the classes, and try to be on time.
What if I can’t make it to all the classes?
This is not medical school and your mom is not going to call me to see how you’re doing. You paid some dough to have some fun and learn about improvising. The expectation is that you’ll do all 6 classes. But if you have something else you need to do instead of one or two of the 6 class times, just do it.