I believe so strongly that Improv is a necessary skill for voice actors; I sometimes turn myself into a pretzel explaining the value of it to Voice One students. I say “Improv helps you break the rules of voice acting by teaching you the rules of spontaneity” or I say, “Improv gives you the confidence to make a choice and then make a different choice”. Obviously, neither of these endorsements seem to work. Students’ fear of Improv generally gets in the way of seeing the value, and I find myself resorting to “Improv is fun!”
Luckily, our amazing school admin, Danny, forwarded me an article written in the Chicago Tribune by Jackie Pilossoph where she interviews Second City actor Kim Greene Hiller. Hiller speaks eloquently about how Improv can teach people concrete life skills like resiliency, team building, listening and creativity. Reminding me that Improv goes beyond merely being an asset for an actor. It is, more significantly, a valuable asset for navigating life. Here is Hiller speaking about teaching Improv and resilience:
“I see children who were scared become brave, I’ve watched adults who were cut off become present, and I’ve seen kids who have anxiety become creative and not afraid to be wrong. Resilience helps people realize that no matter how much you think you failed, if you get up again, you didn’t fail.”
She goes on to speak about other valuable life skills, taught by Improv:
“Listening: In improv, you have to be an active listener. You’re constantly reading social cues, maintaining eye contact, looking at body language. All of these things are important for socialization and better citizenship.”
“Team-building: You need to be able to build trust and to work collaboratively and creatively. In improv, you can’t be successful if you’re not saying yes to other people’s ideas. You have to solve the problem and make it work.”
“Creativity: Improv teaches students that there is no right or wrong answer. We encourage students to tell us what they think, not what they think the right answer is.”
I particularly raise my hands in the air over this last comment about creativity, since so many voice over students want to “do it right”. They feel they must perform the script “right,” choose their classes “right”, make their demo “right”, design their career path “right”. When in truth, being in the moment, saying yes to the offers that come their way and following their gut are more reliable than any imagined “right way”. And if something does fail, Hiller reminds us that “the genius is not in the plan, it’s in the way you handle the piece that didn’t go according to plan.” In other words, get back up and try again.
October 28 - November 11 (3 Mondays)
October 11, 18, 25
December 6, 13
$20 at the door
No prior improv experience requried
Pedro Pascal, The Mandalorian, and Voiceover
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