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by Darren Held

By Sonnjea Blackwell

I crashed the Held2gether Intro to Improv 1/2-day Workshop yesterday, and it was so inspiring! Most of the people had zero improv experience, zero acting experience and zero idea what to expect. There were a few exceptions, and it was fun to see them as well. But I was blown away by the all-out commitment and fearlessness the new folks showed in a difficult, sink-or-swim sort of intensive class. Everyone had a great time, and many of the first timers signed up on the spot for an H2G six-week class.

Wait! Don’t get pissy, I’m not just being an annoying H2G cheerleader. I actually have a point. And anyway, I lost my pom-poms.

My point was: I learn SO MUCH from classes of beginners. I don’t know if there will ever be a point at which I know so much about improv that I can’t learn from an intro class, but I know if there is, I’m nowhere near it. Sure, I know it’s important to “yes, and” everything and add information and commit. But I can still get in line for an add info line-up and freak out because I can’t think of any space work to do. Surely I must do more every day than cry while typing? I mean, I probably cry while washing dishes, or while painting my nails or maybe while paying bills, right? I know lots of people, but there’s still a good chance I’ll call my scene partner Frank. And it’s a safe bet that if I get confused in a scene I will start an argument.

And then I think, wait! I’ve been doing this for two years. Look at these people who just jumped into the deep end with no experience and are giving it their all. It would take an amazing amount of arrogance to think that I can’t learn anything from them – and even I don’t have that kind of arrogance! Some people are obviously terrified, and yet they keep on going, totally enthusiastically, trying over and over to get something right without getting dejected. They haven’t been doing it long enough to have decided, “Well, I suck at characters, so I’m never going to be as good at them as [insert favorite H2G troupe member’s name here]” so it doesn’t occur to them to give up.

Anyway, that’s what I learned at improv class yesterday. What I learned at improv class today is that “I suck at characters, so I’m never going to be as good at them as [insert name of virtually anyone reading this blog].” But fortunately, I learned from the beginners yesterday, so I didn’t give up. I just called my scene partner Frank, started an argument and pretended to cry while circling ads in the newspaper. Hey, it’s progress.

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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