By Darren Held

What? An Improv School in Long Beach?

by Sonnjea Blackwell

What’s What at Held2gether

So, since this is the Grand Re-Opening of the H2g blog, I figured I’d introduce us and stuff. First of all, Held2gether: improv for life is the only improv school in Long Beach. We’re different from the LA improv schools in that our focus is that improv for life part of our name; in other words, we don’t give a crap if you have any kind of performance background or performance aspirations or even performance anxiety. Actually, that last one falls under the category of TMI, anyway, and we’d prefer not to know about it. Thanks.

We believe that the skills taught in our improv classes are applicable in every area of life, and we aim to share that magic with as many people as possible. Agreeing, listening, contributing, being in the moment, committing and supporting one another are all skills needed in improv and life. Why should only actors get to learn all that awesome stuff? Sheesh.

Who’s Who at Held2gether

Darren Held is the “Held” in Held2gether. He went to fancy acting school at NYU and stuff. He stumbled into improv many years ago, and realized right away that the skills needed for doing good improv were the same skills needed for doing good life. When the time was right, he started teaching improv… just one little Parks & Rec class, back in 2009. People were drawn to the “improv for life” aspect and enrollment continued to increase and increase and increase. Pretty soon, Darren had a whole improv empire known as Held2gether: improv for life, and he needed another teacher.

Sonnjea Blackwell (that’s me) was H2g’s original poster child for the non-performer doing improv. I was on stage once, in 5th grade, in a play about the American Revolution. I played a rock, which I’m sure you realize is a very key role in a play about a, uh, war. I worked up the courage to take that first Parks & Rec improv class mainly to overcome shyness, push myself out of my comfort zone and try to deal with some serious writer’s block. I expected it to help with all of those things, and it did. What I didn’t expect was that I would totally fall in love with improv for improv’s sake. I’ve studied improv intensively for the past 4 years (at Held2gether, Groundlings, UCB and Second City). I’ve been writing this blog for several years, sharing my insights and frustrations as a student, performer and teacher of improv comedy.

If you’re new to Held2gether, welcome! If you’re a regular, welcome to you too! You can find out more about our improv classes (which start all the time), improv shows (which are usually free or at least very cheap) and other cool stuff at