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My Top 5 New-Years Improvisation Improvements

I’ve never really been into making resolutions. I was great at breaking them. Of course, the size and importance determined the length of time that I could keep it up. I still have broken promises to myself from 1988. I finally gave up “resolution setting” as I realized I was continuing to set myself up for rejection year after year. If I wasn’t 125 pounds when I was 18, I sure wasn’t going to hit that now, seeing as I’ve passed 18 by a few years. But I accepted that and strived to be healthy instead. As I’ve turned my life towards goal setting as opposed to resolution setting, I applied that same theory toward my Improvisation. I find it amazing the things I’ve learned in such a short time, and with any skill, find myself frustrated with the areas in which I struggle. Like any art form, it takes a life time to master. When contemplating what I want to see from my own improvisation for the next year, I came up with my personal Top 5 key areas for improvement.

  • Enjoy the Silence - Whether I’m in yoga class or improv, there is nothing as unnerving as silence. Those are supposed to best minutes in yoga. They have certainly produced some of the funniest results in improv. It’s almost a physical obstacle, as if my mouth can’t stay closed and I must break the silence. Therefore, in the coming year, I will work on improving the silence of my work.
  • Give me a Break- Yep, I’m a giggler. I feel like I found something fun and funny and awesome and I want to laugh out loud. But, in the interest of maintaining a professional stage appearance, I’m going to work on not “breaking” on stage and rolling on the floor in giggles. I am currently, “mostly terrible” at holding it together, so my goal is to improve, period.
  • What a Character- One of the most difficult things I have found since beginning my journey into improvisation is finding a character in the scene. Sure it’s easy enough to go out onstage and “be yourself”, or even be a different shade of yourself, but to become a completely different character is sometimes elusive. Recently I completed the Level 3 Improv, and have a lot of material to work with on this matter! We will see what, I mean who, emerges from that venture!
  • We’re All In It Together- Simply put, I’m going to do my best to rescue, help, save, support or whatever needs to be done to ensure that my scene partner(s) feel supported 100% of the time.
  • Pick Up An Accent – Maybe a little out of place here, but this one is on my “100 Things I Want to Do” List. It’s going to get interesting. It might be Venezuelan, it might be Greek, I haven’t quite decided yet. Most likely it will be British as I see this as the best excuse to rewatch all the Dr. Who episodes, starting with the 9th Doctor (war doctor excluded). So for now Allons-y and Geronimo!!!

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Lisa Wildman, a current Blacktop Comedy student, lives with her husband, two teenage girls, two dogs and a cat in the foothills of Placer County. Lisa enjoys Taekwondo, reading, time with her family, staying active, and most recently improv.

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Improv Principles For a Truly Happy Holiday Season

12-5-13 Christmas Shots 003_2073x1382With Thanksgiving behind us, we’re full swing into the holidays now. Racing through December and onto the New Year. Like most people, you’re probably busy racing around town, scouring the internet, party planning or packing for visiting family. It’s easy to get lost in the hustle. BE IN THE MOMENT Enjoy where you are now. We often remind students in workshops that when they’re “in the moment”, they will not worry (since that is about the future) and they will not judge themselves or others (since you can only judge based on the past). The Holidays is a wonderful time to practice being present in the now. There is so much in every moment that you miss if you don’t make time to notice it. The smells, lights and sounds this time of year are worth noticing.

IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU Onstage the goal is make your partner look good. You stop worrying about yourself. The interesting thing is that if they look good, you look good, the audience is amazed and everyone wins. Focusing on someone else is the fastest way to let go of yourself and fall into that “Holiday Spirit”.

THERE IS NO PLAN In life, like on the improv stage, there is no plan. Try as you might even the best laid plans can quickly go awry. Flights being delayed, unexpected weather, unexpected guests can happen to even the most thoughtful person. Knowing that you can’t control it all helps to relax and enjoy the ride regardless of the detours.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS! ---- Betsaida LeBron is the Theater Manager at Blacktop Comedy and a current member of the Long-Form Improv Show: True Story, where a weekly guest tells stories from their past as inspiration for improvised scenes. She also teaches the Intro to Improvisation workshops and loves the life-lessons that students get from “playing fun make-em-ups”.

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Guest Blogger: Yes, And!

It’s hard to believe the number one fear in America is public speaking, when you hear the roar of the crowd from the Thursday Night Playground. They can be quite a boisterous crowd. Circling up for warm up games can present a challenge for space in games like “Cup of Sugar” where there are some pretty hysterical collisions. This is such a brisk crowd! The guessing games are a blur, “Hitchiker” and “Freeze” have lines of people ready to play. Sometimes, this is the fastest two hours of my life.Tuesday Night Playground is a smaller group. We work on long-form improvisation. This type of improv: Henry and Armando are two examples. They both involve scene work that come from one word suggestions, We almost always wind up with a plot and a conclusion. That is if we did it right! It’s hard to remember, that it’s a scary thing to stand in front of people , and not only speak, but perform. I feel honored that I am a person who rarely has stage fright. As a matter of fact, the only time I remember feeling nervous was back in pre-mom life, My job involved me providing management training, Well, I was barely pregnant with my daughter and woke feeling unwell to start. Then I put on my white linen suit, hey ~ be kind, this was the `90`s. I went to work, saw the 200 higher-ups I was training and well…I don’t wear white linen anymore. But I am still unafraid to speak to people. Matter of fact, I feel very comfortable on stage, especially with the people I’ve been there with since the beginning.

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Lisa Wildman lives with her husband, two teenage girls, two dogs and a cat in the foothills of Placer County. Lisa enjoys Taekwondo, reading, time with her family, staying active, and most recently improv. Keep up with her adventures in her personal blog.

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Guest Blogger: Tis' the Season

It was Saturday night; my husband and I had a nice dinner out, and the kids were gone for the night.  As I was lying on the couch in a sushi coma trying not to fall asleep, I realized how exhausted I already was.  No! There were still 34 days until Black Friday, or the official “kick off” to Retail’s holiday season, but for me and my family it had already been well underway.  

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In the Retail world, the planning and beginning stages of the holidays start earlier and earlier each year. For more than 16 years we have been dealing with the trials of parenting, trips out of town and other challenges of the season. And each year I try to handle it better.  Each year that my own children grow older makes that task a little easier. Or so I think, because each year something happens and I snap.  It’s usually something stupid and small, but I punish the world by taking to my house for the rest of the holiday season only to emerge when the holidays have safely passed and inventory is underway.  
But I decided that this year was going to be different. I couldn’t take it anymore.  I couldn’t put my happiness into the hands of a big corporate retailer.  It wasn’t fair to me and it’s certainly not fair to my family. I knew I had to be responsible for my own happiness.  I determined that I must change within myself.   I had made the decision to become a happier person, but really, that’s pretty vague.  
I had no real plan, just an idea of who and how I wanted to be.  I was not the Susie Sunshine type, that would never be my personality. But a long time ago, before life got serious, life was fun.  But since we can’t just chuck our lives and responsibilities out the door I determined I had to let the sunshine in. Enter Blacktop.  I was very unsuspecting of anything, the first show I saw. I just remember giggling like a little girl.  Later I realized that the humor was so much to my taste that I found I wanted to take a class.  I didn’t even tell anyone, including my family, that I attended the Level 1: Intro to Improv.  I just snuck off, made my excuses and went.
Flash forward four months:  Since my involvement with Blacktop, improv, comedy and all the people and events that come with it, my path became clearer.  It was so simple. The key to happiness was laughter.   And laughter at Blacktop was easy.  Whether you are giving it, or receiving there is always something happening to make you smile.  Since I had already been working towards changing my overall attitude towards life and eliminating all the negative sources, I figured I might be in the right place. I took paper to pen as all great plans must be written down. Well, if I don’t write it down, chances are I won’t remember.  My plan entailed that from now on, I would only surround myself with positive people, engage in positive activities and remove  myself from negative people and activities.  This going to be step one.  Am I perfect? No, of course not. Just the other day, someone asked me how I was. When I listened to the playback reel in my head, I realized that I sounded terrible.  I was feeling very negative, adjusting to the rigors of “season”.  It was leaking out in in my conversation. Blech!  Who would want to hang around that?  But, I did some volunteer work, watched a great Blacktop show and got a good dose of comedy and laughter.  Exploding Zombie Turtles! Awesome!!  I was nearly on the floor in hysterics each time one of those little buggers blew. Before I knew it, I was back with my old pact of being happy and hanging with positive people.
So I’m warning you holidays, beware! You will not rain on my parade this year!  And while I seek out the positive, while eliminating the negative (step one!), I can’t wait for the journeys ahead.  Yes, I understand, step one will probably never be over as life is a constantly changing force, but’s that’s okay, as it is the journey and not the destination that matters.

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Lisa Wildman lives with her husband, two teenage girls, two dogs and a cat in the foothills of Placer County. Lisa enjoys Taekwondo, reading, time with her family, staying active, and most recently improv. Keep up with her adventures in her personal blog.

 

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