We’ll start our chat about the lessons we learnt with guest teachers by going back a whole year!
Last January, Lydia Hensler and Zeke Nicholson, from UCB NYC and LA, came to London to teach some workshops. I was doing improv for a year, not always super confident about my skills and I had just started writing comedy, but had yet to even admit it to myself! Both Lydia and Zeke helped me tremendously in getting that confidence up and I’ve been improvising, writing and performing confidently ever since!
Lydia’s improv workshops helped me get out of my head, start making more joyful choices in scenes and being bolder with those choices to help my sets keep their momentum. I still remember feeling really uncomfortable walking around the room improvising with myself, but not in my head…out loud, together with the other 15 people in the class. Having to keep a scene going, dialoguing with yourself, while competing with all the noise around you was hard. Those exercises that take you out of your comfort zone are the ones that really challenge you towards improvement!
She also taught a workshop on developing and writing characters. I had a couple I had no confidence in, but Lydia listened, noted, pitched other ideas and for the first time ever, I considered writing a whole show for myself!
Zeke brought us a fun variety of workshops. Introducing some chaos to your improv is his trademark and a skill I find very useful. We frequently get stuck on the rules and forget fun, laughs and sense of play are so important in improv.
His sketch writing class taught me how to better develop characters. We used improvised character painting and short character monologues to jump start ideas. Understanding characters’ points of view is proven important both for writing and all my improvised endeavours.
Last but not the least, Zeke taught a class on Storytelling that quite literally changed my life! It was a super fun workshop centred around using your own experiences to retell engaging stories, showing you need nothing more than yourself to develop work. That workshop got me to host my 1st show – a storytelling show – and I now develop and host shows left and right and that is super satisfying. Being yourself while hosting a show is all you need! I also learnt how to use storytelling and myself to write comedy for stand-up and have a few 5 minutes I’ve been performing around.
So yeah, I’m super excited they are coming back January 2018!
They are again teaching a lot more than improv! Lydia is teaching 2 improv workshops and one workshop on crafting a show. Zeke is teaching 2 improv workshops and one workshop on writing for sitcoms. I really can’t wait to find out what other creative doors they will open up for me.
This post was written by Mariana Feijó.