How do I love thee Improv? Let me count the ways…or let me just tell you about one of my favorite improv tools: character.
Creating and developing a character can bring so much life and depth to a show or scene, it takes a normal improv scene to the next level because you are not only defining who a specific person is, but as a person turned improviser, you’re diving into risks and committing to this person or thing you’ve just created and wowing not only yourself but your audience.
After spending a full class on characters, I realized I have to put more faith in using that tool for scene starts. Although I’m not afraid to use it, I’ve always just used one aspect to initiate a character instead of the many options! Only a 601 student should know this secret to character, but I’ll share it since you’ve taken the time to read this. Ladies and gentlemen, I reveal to you with the help of Jill Bernard (photo above) via the Merlin Works Wizards Ted and Joplin, V.A.P.A.P.O (vah-pai-poh, vah-puh-poh, vap-up-oh—said all three ways during the course of our 2 hour class)! Voice. Attitude. Posture. Animal. Prop. Obsession. It’s amazing what walking on stage as a giraffe who thinks he owns the place can do for scene. With VAPAPO, you’ll never be stumped.
I think where some tend to hesitate with the use of a big, bold character is when they are endowed or endow someone with what they think to be a generic character. This is the actually the ultimate opportunity! The best part about generic characters is seeing someone’s interpretation of that character! A teacher doesn’t have to be a politely dressed, middle aged woman with glasses. Inspiration can pull from memories of people you know if your life or someone you’ve run across and that’s when you meet Mr. Doolap: The 10th grade English teacher at Moranke High with a hunch back that shields his students from ever making contact with his sparkling blue eyes and who enthusiastically and consistently rolls his wrist while explaining how Animal Farm really is a metaphor for our chaotic society. After all, he would know, because he was on the island once…in his dreams. Wouldn’t you be excited to see that guy?? It’s the ultimate mix of EPIC and VAPAPO, people! Boom! Now we’re learning improv, yeah!
Character is only a small part of my love for improv. When I morph into someone or something new, I can’t help but feel a release from my everyday life. It’s a rush and form of expression that I would encourage everyone not to try, but to show off, because those characters are already in you! And what other way to do so, than to take a stab at Merlin Works Improv classes! The 2 ½ hours you take out of you week to take a risk and do something different is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Nope, I’m not a Merlin Works spokesman, I’m just your average Jane in round 3 of 601 classes and loving every minute of it.
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