Students gather around in a circle as instructor Pamela Downs takes to the center like a circus ringmaster preparing for a dazzling and elaborate trick; she explains the rules of the warm up game as each student tags in, they must mime the actions given to them by the exiting student.
The course is TA 344: Improvisation and Theatre Games and it is intended to develop trust, cooperation, mental acuity and physical and vocal range as an actor according to the course description, but students don’t need to be an actor to enjoy the same benefits.
“If you’re an actor it really deepens your skills, your character development and gives you more stage presence,” Downs said. “If you’re not an actor it improves confidence and your ability to speak in public.”
The point of improv is to learn how to let go and embrace the ideas of your fellow performers with an always say yes attitude; this means a student may find themselves the chairman of a bubblegum insurance company or a superhero with a super sense of smell or acting out being a tap dancing yogi.
“It’s one of the really good classes, you use the things you learn from improv,” said Downs’ assistant Zack Ekstedt.
While running around and acting silly may seem intimidating the class has a very open and supportive atmosphere that will help students overcome any nervousness and really learn to let go and embrace a more spontaneous version of themselves.
“It teaches me more confidence,” student Emily Moore said.
“I wanted to take improv because I heard it was a good class and to get away from stress from my other classes,” Georgie Musgrave said.
Improv is a two unit course that is offered during the fall and spring semesters and occasionally during the summer; there are no prerequisites and students of every level of acting and physical ability are welcome, so consider adding TA 355 to your ARC force bucket list.