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by Darren Held

Sometimes I have trouble figuring out what to write about for these posts. I mean, it’s not like improv, where a bunch of people shout out suggestions at me and I can just pick one and run with it. Nope. It’s just me and Koji, and although Koji occasionally comes into my office and stares at me, I don’t actually find that overly helpful.

And it’s not like it’s 2005 and blogs are the coolest thing EVER and people will read anything I write just because it’s a friggin’ blog.

So every once in a while, I think, “Eh. What’s the point?” Like this morning, for example.

Which reminds me. In the Level 1 improv class Saturday, we were doing a labeling exercise. After I described the exercise and demonstrated it and one group actually did it, a lady raised her hand and asked, “Uh, what’s the point of this exercise?”

She wasn’t being rude or suggesting the exercise was a waste of her time. She meant, “What are the broader implications of the labeling skills we are learning in this exercise as applied to improv scenes in general?”

I love that question. Although I give a short explanation before each exercise about the skill set it addresses, until students have done actual improv scenes, the importance of particular skills remains unclear. Without that frame of reference of performing a scene, the need for labels or agreement or not asking questions can seem mysterious. So asking what’s the point or WHY are we doing this lets me know they are thinking about the bigger picture and are ready to put the next piece of the puzzle into place. I could explain the why of every skill and every aspect of an exercise before the students do it, but often doing it is what gets their brains ready for understanding it.

So, uh, that’s the point of writing this blog, I guess. Just like performing an improv scene, teaching improv involves layering information rather than just vomiting all the information out at once. So sometimes I might write about agreement. Sometimes, about not being jokey. Other times, about my muscles. Because there’s always another layer of information that people will be able to take in when they’re ready.

Still, suggestions wouldn’t hurt. So if you have a topic you want me to elaborate on, ask me in the comments or on FB and I’ll do my best to address it. And if it’s about improv, even better.

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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