Improv workshop keeps students on their toes

Mouna Algahaithi, Staff Writer

Improvisational theater, often called “improv,” is a lot more than just tapping into the actor within.

“It’s about thinking creatively on your feet and helps to develop both creative and critical thinking skills,” said Michael Lussenden, drama professor at Madison College.

Every Thursday from 5-7 p.m. in room C1425, Lussenden and colleagues meet with students to practice improvisational skills.

“(It’s) a student generated activity for those with the smattering of interest in improv, it’s morphed into a beginner’s workshop,” said Lussenden.

The workshop begins with warm-up games such as “Pirates Drinking Song” or “Story Build-Up,” where students are asked to complete a story using one word or one sentence each.

“The warm-ups are intended to allow first-timers to get acclimated to how we do things,” says Brieann Robbins, a student at Madison College, who intends to major in Television Arts at UW-Madison.

Brieann has attended the Improv Workshop every Thursday for the past year.

“I love improv because it’s acting without a script. You get to develop different characters and create a repertoire of them to continually build and grow with.”

As a waitress, Robbins says she practices improvisational acting with customers.

“For one table, I could have a Southern accent, and they would never even know! It’s fun to be able to be anybody and draw on that.”

Improvisational acting can be applicable to a plethora of fields unrelated to acting.

“You can use it in day to day life,” said Kevin Veloso, former student at Madison College. “Think about sales or public relations. You’re constantly thinking on your feet, and you need to do so in a creative way.”

Veloso is also a “regular” at the Improv Club and has been attending for the past year.

“I love improv because you can act like a 3 year old kid, prior to obtaining a superego and being socialized to act ‘normal’. If I wanted to be a carrot in a blender, I could be,” said Veloso. “It’s about thinking outside the box, and just going with whatever comes to mind.”

The standard rules of improvisational acting include not asking questions, but making statements, so as not to cut any creative flow.

“Do not deny/negate. One must say, ‘Yes! And…” explains Lussenden. “Improv is not about trying to be funny, it’s about being serious with whatever comes to your mind, and allowing the humor to emerge from that.”

“No matter who you are, you’re improvising every day of your life. Improv frees your mind to be creative and gives you permission to open up. It’s not about being perfect, but it’s about committing to a character and being fearless,” said one facilitator.  “What’s the worst thing that’s gonna happen to you? People laugh? Sounds a bit like the objective to me.”