Thursday, February 12, 2015
Show Times: Sunday, February 15, 9 PM / Sunday, February 22, 8 PM *** (See details below.)
In addition to writing my biography on silent screen vamp Barbara La Marr and performing the one-woman show that I wrote about her incredible life, I have also fallen in love with improv. As with most gifts that enter our lives while we are busy pursuing other things, I chanced upon this path about a year and a half ago while honing my commercial audition skills. In the interest of constantly stretching myself as a performer, and since more and more commercial auditions involve improvising nowadays, I took casting director Killian McHugh's "Commercial Improv" class. I am grateful I did---in more ways than one. There I met Brian Jack (the talented actor, improviser, and iO West instructor who taught the improvisation portion of the class) and became hooked. When I asked Brian his recommendation for the best place in Los Angeles to study improv, he replied: iO West.
Mike Meyers, actor, comedian, and iO (Chicago) alum, likened iO's style of long form improv to a way of looking at life. In learning the mechanics behind improvising an entire show around an audience member's random suggestion, thinking on my feet to help co-create a succession of group games and scenes, I have found Meyers's words to be true. As writer and improviser Kim "Howard" Johnson acknowledges, we are all improvisers, as we all traverse the twists and bends of our lives without a script to guide us. Many of iO's basic tenets, I believe, offer clues to help us navigate life more successfully: connect to, trust, and support one another...stay present, realizing that all you need is contained within any given moment...push through any sense of awkwardness to the gift on the other side...the only mistake is not to dive in fully... For me, the ultimate byproduct of exploring this amazing art form has been a deeper sense of daring in my improvising and life. I am reminded of the scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where Indiana steps out into the nothingness above a great crevasse, trusting that the bridge will appear beneath his feet.
*** My Level 3 class will be performing our class shows at 9 PM Sunday, February 15 and 8 PM Sunday, February 22. Both shows will run about twenty-five minutes and take place in The Loft at iO West (6366 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles 90028). The shows are free, so do come check them out!
I am currently in my fifth level of iO's seven-level program (technically, I am in Level 3, but they restructured their curriculum when I was midway through it, and the former Level 5 has become Level 3). I cannot recommend iO West enough, as I have found the instructors and training offered there to be excellent for those (of all levels of experience) who wish to hone their skills as an improviser, actor, or writer. To enroll in classes or see some of the great improv teams on the theater's various stages, visit: http://ioimprov.com/west/