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by Darren Held

Sometimes in improv classes, students get upset and defensive when they are being critiqued. Even at Held2gether, where the feedback is always super supportive and encouraging, people sometimes have a hard time.

I get that. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I’m not a huge fan of having my shortcomings pointed out for the whole world to see. It’s not comfortable being told you’re not perfect. Trust me when I say it’s a whole lot more difficult at other places. I’ve had non-Held2gether instructors whose critiques were anything but supportive. When that happens, it’s like a fog envelops you and you just stand numbly on the stage, waiting for the critique to end so you can go back to your seat, or rush off to the bathroom to cry or leave and never come back. Or, you know, so I’m told.

Personally, I think it’s idiotic to give unsupportive feedback. When a student feels bashed, they really can’t take in what the instructor is [ostensibly] trying to teach. On the other hand, when students feel like the teacher acknowledges their efforts, then it’s a bit easier to assimilate the part about how they denied every single thing their scene partner said or whatever.

But the thing is, even in an über-supportive environment like H2G, class is meant to be a learning experience. And the only way to learn is to listen to the feedback your instructors give you, and try your best to apply that feedback. At H2G, we want you to push yourselves out of your comfort zone, and we know that means sometimes scenes will go horribly awry. That’s awesome! That means you tried something you weren’t sure of, which is the entire point of class. So when a scene or exercise doesn’t go the way you’d hoped, and the critique includes a bunch of stuff you need to work on, instead of getting upset or frustrated, pat yourself on the back for having had the courage to just DO IT.

To get the most out of improv classes, you have to be willing to fail… and fail BIG! But (to be unbelievably cliché) the only way to truly fail in improv is not to try.

Yeah, yeah. It’s the same in real life, peeps. But I don’t think you need me to tell you that.

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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