Monday, May 19, 2014

Wakefield High School - Improv Residency

Over the past three weeks, we in the Education Department at Signature Theatre have had the distinct pleasure of doing a teaching residency with the advanced theatre class at Wakefield High School in Arlington County. For over five years, Signature has joined in this unique partnership to bring topics previously untouched to the theatre classrooms at Wakefield. Previous topics have included creativity, directing  and playwriting. This year we decided to get a little bit "unstructured" and "unplanned" and settled to teach a four week long improv workshop.

For those of you that might be unfamiliar with the term "improv", let me break it down for you as simply as possible. Improv is the shortened form of the word "improvisation" or "improvise". Now, what improvisation is can best be described as "to compose and perform or deliver, without previous to preform in the spur of the moment."

Over the past several weeks, the lovely and talented students of Chris Gillespie have been hard at work under the instruction of Signature Theatre's David Zobell and Matt Strote as they explore the improvised world. With exercises including simple improvisational icebreakers, imagination sequences, character building intensives, status / relationship breakouts and source-inspired scenes, the students of Gillespie's theatre class have come quite far in such a short time. They have shown considerable growth in their abilities to play off of one another, be bold and creative in the moment, not be afraid to look silly or make a mistake and how to approach a given circumstance with little to no preparation. (Let's face it. Most of our lives are fraught with trying to overcome challenges and obstacles that we were not prepared for.)

We hope you enjoy getting a sneak peak on the fun we have every morning with these brilliant young individuals. We are sad to see this residency come to its annual end this week, but the time we have spent with the students at Wakefield has been a wonderful experience and we hope to continue this mutually beneficial relationship with Wakefield High School for many years to come.

Grace begins one of her improvised monologues.
Jose literally "supporting" Will throughout a short scene.
Lena reaching for something.
Liz accepting Jose's proposal. Finally!


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