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by Darren Held

Do you ever forget if you’ve eaten breakfast today? Or showered this week? Or is that just me? I’m just sayin’, there’s a lot of stuff going on in any given day, and sometimes it’s hard to keep track of it all.

Anyway, it’s kinda the same thing with improv: there’s a lot going on, but there are certain things you want to address as early as possible in a scene. Names, relationships, what you’re doing, where you are, why today is the big day – leaving out one of these things can make a scene flounder. Leaving out more than one can make a scene painful.

It’s even trickier in long form, where you’re not just remembering your little 3-minute scene! You have to remember the names of dozens of characters, multiple story lines, a myriad of relationships and keep it all straight so you don’t deny information that’s been set up or mix up your stories or characters – which would confuse the heck out of the audience as well as the rest of the players.

It sounds hard, and it is, at first. But as with anything, it gets easier with practice. Oh, and lots and lots of excellent instruction. There are different types of long form improv; at Held2gether, we teach and perform the “clap-in” method, which essentially starts with 3 separate 2- or 3-person scenes based on audience suggestions. After the 3rd beginning scene, any player can clap to end the current scene and initiate a new one, and then the stories come to life as the characters move backward and forward in time to add information to the storylines, justify things that have happened or tell related “analogous” stories.

It’s incredibly fun, and it helps with skills like working together as one big, happy team, improving memory and really, really listening. Long form class starts a week from Wednesday. Some improv experience is required; if you’re not sure you have enough experience, just email the boss to find out!

By Sonnjea Blackwell

Darren Held
About Darren Held
Darren is the CEO and Creative Director of Held2gether, Improv for LIfe. He has been teaching and performing improv for 15 years, and has performed with H2g, the Groundlings, UCB and Second City. He loves Moto, red wine, and Madonna.

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