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Improv Gives Unscripted Confidence

Charley Hilliard, staff writer

Photograph courtesy of PVCC Marketing and Media Relations

Photograph courtesy of PVCC Marketing and Media Relations

Every third Friday of the month, PVCC hosts an improv event. Improvisational theatre is about performing elaborate or simple experiences without any script, literally letting a scene unfold spontaneously. This is unquestionably difficult, but the group that met Friday, Jan., 19 2018, made tongue twisters, body posture contortions, and public heart-to-heart speaking look easy with their collective wit. This was an absolutely fantastic group and event.

I showed up 6:05 p.m. and was greeted at the door by a small group of actors looking up at me in the manner of a wild, inquisitive, and nearly untamed animals. They were hunched over, fingers outstretched, and nose pointed forward, I spoke, and they scampered closer. Brad Stoller, assistant professor of the theatre arts, approached me, illustrating a type of stage movement, the whole of his body following his head and nose with expert precision.

He was teaching us how to move like Zanni, the servant, an archetypal character originating from the ancient Italian improv theatre called Commedia Dell’arte. There are a variety of characters from this kind of performance, and we practiced each emphasizing their unique qualities. In addition to Zanni, there is Magnifico, the Master, played as standing tall, upright, and powerful. Another, Harlequin, exhibits a charming personality and leads around the room with the hips. Stoller described Harlequin as a Jim-Carrey-type seen in modern entertainment. According to Stoller, learning the archetypal characters is common practice for many modern performers.

The final third of the event saw a change in pace from trying to capture the essence of a role to putting a new way of thinking to the test. This involved acting out a scene between a bully, victim, and savior. One of the takeaways from this game was that playing a character, like a bully, can be emotionally difficult because for a person as they are making up, on the spot, how a character behaves. Because of the engagement required by improv, this could trigger unpleasant memories from the past. It is important to know the environment is an open, friendly, and vulnerable one. This created a surprisingly strong connection between the participants. And perhaps because of this, I left the event feeling strangely more confident in who I am.  I look forward to the next improv event at PVCC.

Short URL: http://www.piedmontforum.com/?p=32736

Posted by on Jan 25 2018. Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Events, From the Forum. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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