Workshops

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Introduction

Here is a list of workshops I offer. Take this with a grain of salt because I have issues with structure. That means that I basically improvise each workshop I give; I always adapt to the needs of the group. Furthermore I am pretty opinionated when it comes to improv, so I tend to sneak in those opinions (see my posts tagged “opinions”), irrespective of whether these are immediately related to the workshop title.

Contact me if you want to discuss your group’s needs – my workshop offerings are easy to tailor to any audience, be it large or small, beginner or experienced, long form or short form.

All my workshops are very active. Participants need to wear comfortable clothes and be prepared to move about. The smaller the group, the more intense the work for the participants. In order to guarantee enough stage time, some of these workshops are fairly limited in number of participants.

The workshops below are organized in 2 chunks: general improv and musical improv.  Use the menu to see the list of workshops offered.

General Improv

Martha Stewart Improv (and How to Remedy it)

I define “Martha Stewart Improv” as scenes with ordinary, current-day characters in ordinary,  current-day situations.  But since we improvisers have the freedom to create any kind of reality we want, so why limit ourselves to the ordinary?

This workshop is a work-out on exposition: we will cover techniques to steer away
from the ordinary current-day, to instantly create extraordinary realities or extraordinary characters.  Or combinations of both.
Interestingly – and perhaps unexpectedly – this is not about creating wild fantasies or instant absurdity, but quite the opposite.  We will learn that this kind of exposition leads automatically and logically to interesting stories.
The techniques you will learn in this workshop are fun to play with and can be used with any style of improv.

 

Workshop 2004
Workshopping in Leuven (2004)

  • Duration:  ½ day. 
  • Prerequisites: prior improv experience
  • Group size: 6-18

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Antifactual Storytelling

As improvisers we invent stories; by training we are good at that. But in this workshop we will steer away from explicit storytelling. And we do that by steering away from facts.

Facts are boring, because they take away surprise. Telling a story is merely stating facts in an ordered way. What is far more interesting than facts, is anti-factual stuff: things that may not be true: opinions, suspicions, preconceptions, hunches, etc. In this workshop we will learn to offer these as gifts to our co-players. By doing that we do not create a story, we create a sea of possibilities for stories to emerge; we will create that stuff that stories are born out of!

This is great fun to play. This is great fun to watch as an audience. It is at first sight counter intuitive to improvisers trained in yes-and, because we will, on purpose, destroy “realities” as stated by characters. Or so we think – since these realities are not factual, we destroy nothing! It is great fun, as a player, to set up stuff purposely for your co-players to muck about with.

We will learn this by means of exercises. Some of these will be familiar, but we will use them in a new way. This way of playing improv is like discovery of a new muscle: you need to train it.

We will also learn a couple of handles/structures that can be exploited in this style of playing. The skills we learn can be used in any format, long form or short form, and any style of playing. Consider this a new tool for your toolbox!


Post-workshop selfie, Uppsala Sweden (2017)

  • Duration: minimum 3 hours or ½ day. Can be offered as a series of 4-5 ½ days, and combines great with the workshop on Character-Driven Narrative described below.
  • Prerequisites: prior improv experience
  • Group size: 6-18

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Character-Driven Narrative

As improvisers we invent stories; by training we are good at that. But in this workshop we will steer away from explicit storytelling.  Instead we will focus on defining what really drives a character.

If we know a character’s point of view, if we understand what the character wants or does not want, what the driving force is behind the character, then you (both as the actor playing that character, as well as the other actors playing antagonists or secondary characters) already know how the character will – logically – react to anything you throw at it.  You do not have to think about it; you know.  All you have to do as antagonist or secondary character, is throw stuff at the protagonist that will play into what the character does or does not want, and a significant reaction will follow.  Ergo a story will develop automatically.  The story is driven by the needs/wants/likes of the character – on the condition that these are clear and known.   Hence: Character-Driven Narrative.

We will learn this by practicing scene setups, both in one-character and multi-character situations.   Playing in this style is not difficult, but it does take some practice.  In this workshop you will learn the tools for such practice.

This is a tremendously fun way to play – consider it another tool in your toolkit.  It can be applied to both short form and long form, and is not limited to narrative-based styles of improv.

If you want to now more about this I have a long post on the ideas behind the concept of Character-Driven Narrative.

swiep-masterclass-mei-2017
Pre show masterclass (2017)

  • Duration: minimum 3 hours or ½ day. 
  • Prerequisites: prior improv experience.
  • Group size: 6-18.

Protagonists, Antagonists & Sidekicks

When exposition is done well, scenes tend to run effortlessly. The opposite is also true: when it is not clear who the characters are, or when the dynamics between those characters are vague, scenes tend to suffer. This workshop focuses on the setup of stories & scenes, and in particular on creating tension between the characters.

You will learn about protagonists, antagonists, 2 types of sidekick characters as well as joiner characters. We will learn to identify our type of character while we are playing it, and learn to detect which additional types of characters might help or hinder the scene. The end result is scene setups that have instant tension, rather than instant trouble: The term ‘antagonist’ – in this workshop does not imply antagonising behavior of the character!

This is a very practical, hands-on workshop, in which you will get plenty of stage time. You can also expect a bit of a solo-workout, where you will be alone on the scene for short periods of time.

Techniques covered in this workshop are great fun to play with and can be applied to any type or style of improv.

  • Duration: minimum 3 hours or ½ day. 
  • Prerequisites: prior improv experience.
  • Group size: 6-18.

 

Musical Improv Workshops

Introduction to Improvised Singing

A well-performed song can really spice up an improv performance. However, even seasoned improvisers sometimes shy away from singing. In this workshop we focus on creating and performing improvised songs, and the good news is that anyone can do it!  We will prove in this workshop that each of us has been so immersed in (western) pop music, that we all unconsciously know ‘the rules’ of pop music. This workshop will help you unlock this unconscious knowledge.

No prior musical improv experience is needed. You don’t need a good singing voice, you can be tone-deaf and rhythmically challenged. We’ll still make you sing. And shine.

Expect to learn:

  • What to sing about
  • How to make a song stick
  • How to create song structures
  • How to create a variety of melody and rhythm
  • When (not to) rhyme
  • How and when to sing together in duets and group songs

belugas2017

Workshopping with The Beluga’s (2017)

Since the workshop is focused on creating songs, there will be little or no scene work involved.

  • Prerequisites: minimal (non-musical) improv experience
  • Duration: ½ day
  • Number of participants: 6-12, preferably 10 or less.

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Mounting a Musical Long Form Performance

In this workshop we take a group of players that have no particular prior experience with musical improv, and we work to produce a public performance by the end of the workshop. Depending on the level of the participants, we fill ½ day with the material from the workshop “Introduction to improvised singing”. We decide on the format together – we might even invent a new format. We rehearse the format. We present it on stage.  Audience loves it and so do we.  Sound simple, but it never fails!

  • Prerequisite: Participants should have prior experience with long form improv
  • Duration: Minimum 1 day. Can be split over 2-5 half day workshops for e.g. festivals
  • Number of participants: Minimum 4; there is no real maximum but the most talented singers will get most stage time.


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Musical workshop with The Ghost Sheep (2016)

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Musical Short-form

You play short-form improv and want to learn to spice things up by incorporating song and music in your show? This workshop is a must for you!

In this workshop we address short form handles or improv games in which music and/or singing. Some of these handles may be familiar from e.g. TV shows like Whose Line Is It Anyway, but guaranteed you’ll learn a couple you have never seen before.

We will teach you the ins and outs of each handle, and there will be plenty of stage time to rehearse the handles: participants will be able to perform these successfully for a live audience after the workshop!

  • Duration: minimum half a day; maximum 2 days – which can be divided over 4 half-day sessions.
  • Prerequisites: basic familiarity with improvised singing is required.
  • Limited to 12 participants

This workshop combines really well with the Introduction to Improvised Singing, totaling a full day (½ day introduction and ½ day musical short form. What I frequently do is workshop 1 day, and mount a public performance that night, showcasing what we workshopped.

Lunatics 2008
Workshopping short form musical improv with the Lunatics (2008)

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Musical Improv for Kids

Yes, it’s possible! If you have a group of kids that have been introduced to the basics of improv, why not try musical improv with them as well?

In this workshop we will play with sounds, rhythm and music. We will work with both voice & body to express ourselves in non-verbal ways, and to create realities as a group. These workshops are high energy blasts!

kidsworkshop

Musical Improv for Kids with XS (2014)

This workshop does not compare at all to the introductory musical improv workshop for adults: the threshold is very low, the focus is on active fun, not theory and – depending on the level of the participants – we probably won’t get around to improvising full blown songs.

  • Duration: 2 hours.
  • Prerequisites: kids must have been introduced to improv prior to this workshop. Minimal introduction is sufficient. Minimum age is 10. We will need a space with a large, relatively clean floor: all kids must be able to lie down on the floor comfortably, without disturbing others. Provide clothes that may get a little dusty.
  • Group size: 8-18. Less than 8 is not recommended because we do a lot of group work, and fewer than 8 is simply not enough of a group.
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