BWW Reviews: Boise Improv Theater's Level 3 Class
When you go to Steven Zunich's LinkedIn page, this is the most recent post: "Second City Trained Actor,[Steven Zunich is] teaching Improv [in Boise] as a means to improved acting performance, getting to the truth in comedy and developing first rate original written comedy material."
I contacted him and attended one night to experience the class. Steve starts the class with a few announcements to get the class excited. He promotes student's shows and encourages the rest of the class to go to the shows if they can and learn from seeing them perform a "live" show. In attendance were performers from Chicks 'n Giggles, Insert Foot Theatre,and Recycled Minds Improv. Everyone was very excited about the upcoming Idaho Laugh Fest. (Jan 9-11, 2014)
Once the announcements were done, and the class introduced each other, they start with a classic game of 'zip-zap-zop'. It was great to see that games taught in high school are still being used by professionals. This game is for attention and speed and by the time the game was called to an end the energy in the room was stirring.
The students were getting warmed up and then they played 'hot spot'. During this game a thought occurred to me, "why is it that actors have difficulty making a circle?" While watching this game, I watched the body language of the students closely. A majority of the students were very comfortable; although there were some that had their arms crossed in front of their bodies. As the game continued Steven would walk around the room and encourage the students. It is a game where the students sing as though they are in the spot light. Once the game got going a few students would get stuck because they only remembered the one line from the song so they would just have to repeat it, but everyone became a team, worked together and helped each other out.
It was mostly a night of running theatre games. A few of the other games played were '2 Headed-expert', 'Space Object Work', 'Walk the Space', and 'Freeze Tag'. It was so fun to watch the students start each game a little leery and then be open and engaged by the end of each game. These games help everyone get to know each other and realize their own potential so that once they get to writing original work they will be able to hit the ground running.
The instructor would walk about the space and if he saw a student struggle he would just walk up to them whisper in their ear some suggestion and the student would relax a bit knowing that they were in a safe space and their instincts were correct, they just needed to commit more.
He was very good at strong encouragement without stopping the flow and redirecting once the giggles started spreading. No one felt that they were forced to do any of the games and everyone walked out of class at the end of night full of energy and a bit more open to opportunities.
One of the major rules of improv that is enforced here is "always say yes" and if I had the opportunity to attend this class, I would say "yes".