Longform Improvisational Comedy builds completely new, impromptu, unplanned scenes into an entire show, using nothing but a bare stage and maybe a few chairs.
The comedy comes not from conditions imposed on the performers, but from the characters and relationships they create. It’s a style of improv that lets you draw on who you are, on what you know, on what you think is funny and interesting. It’s the comedy training of most of the performers on programs like The Office, Parks and Recreation, The Colbert Report and The Daily Show, as well as the comedy schools of Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles.
There are three basic improv levels, Improv 1, Improv 2, and Improv 3. Each is fantastically fun on its own yet builds on the knowledge and practices of the previous level. Students who complete all three levels are eligible to perform with our group ensembles in runs of rehearsals and shows.
Big Blue Door’s improv curriculum was developed from the Magnet Theater training system created by Armando Diaz, and additionally inspired by many of New York’s best teachers at Magnet, Upright Citizens Brigade, and elsewhere, including Louis Kornfeld, Mark Grenier, Megan Gray, Zach Woods, Russ Armstrong, and Shanon O’Neill.
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Level 1: Character & Scene
This introduction to longform improv will teach you how to build an original show of life-filled characters and spontaneous, hilarious scenes! In eight weeks of exercises, games, and a final class performance you’ll learn how to play fearlessly with other smart people in focused abandon; how to draw inspiration from almost anything; and how to find what’s funny and compelling in real human emotions, quirks, and experiences. Whether you’re interested in longform improv, curious about how comedy works, or just looking to have fun this is one of the best classes you’ll ever take!
Level 2: Cuts & Callbacks
Building on the skills from your Improv 1 class, Improv Cuts & Callbacks will teach you new techniques such as cuts, tags, callbacks and second beats. You’ll use these new skills in sync with other performers to explore characters in different times and places. You’ll also learn to expand the range of your characters using physicality, actions, and verbal confessions. Finally, you’ll learn to use the ‘Living Room Opening’ to generate richer and more playful ideas from audience suggestions. A fantastic course for actors, writers, and anyone who likes to have fun. Eight sessions plus a class show. Prerequisite: Improv 1.
Level 3: Harold
This culmination of longform improv training draws on all the skills you’ve learned from previous levels and explodes them into a universe of fun! You’ll learn to create group scenes, group games, and group openings; you’ll explore third beats and connecting storylines; you’ll explore forms such as the Monoscene, and the Harold, the original and most popular longform structure; most of all, you’ll work with other performers as a tight, dynamic, versatile unit to question, investigate, or just make fun of anything from the silly to the sublime. Eight sessions plus a class show.
Students who have completed Improv 1, 2 & 3 are eligible to sign up for Performance Workshops. Each workshop focuses on a particular improv form or style. Big Blue Door organizes students into teams and books runs of shows in Charlottesville venues, plus a few road shows. Performance Workshops take place throughout the year so improvisers can perform when their schedules permit. Also costs of Performance Workshops are much lower than costs of classes and the performers usually split the door, so they can actually make money doing great theater! Every year Big Blue Door will offer Performance Workshops in the Harold, Monoscene, Smallprov, and other formats or styles.
Telling True Stories
Turn the personal experiences of your life into funny, moving, honest performances! Telling True Stories is a course of 6 sessions plus a class show designed to help you learn to find and tell your stories. The first four sessions use class discussions and exercises to develop material for about eight finished stories. Then over the last two sessions you’ll choose one story to revise, rehearse, and perform in front of a live audience at the class show. The course touches on effective memorization techniques, using a microphone, and dealing with privacy and confidentiality. Plus it’s a lot of fun. You might just find that learning to tell your story is one of the most rewarding things you ever do!
WRITING SKETCH COMEDY WORKSHOP
Whether you’re a writer wanting to explore a new medium or a fan of comedy wanting to know how sketch shows operate, this two-session workshop uses guided examples from classic routines and quick-fire exercises to teach you to recognize the funny stuff, whether it’s in the characters, relationships or entire worlds. You’ll learn how to develop your peeves into characters, and how to turn characters into hilarious situations, plus you’ll get a taste of a ‘writer’s room’ atmosphere!
- We offer 100% refunds for courses that we cancel.
- We offer a 100% refund, minus a 10 dollar processing fee for courses that you withdraw from, if you email us at email@example.com at least 72 hours BEFORE the class begins. (The $10 fee is to account for the amount Pay Pal subtracts from transactions.)
- We do not offer any refund for withdrawals later than 72 hours before a class begins.