UCB teaches improv through the Harold form. The Harold makes it easier to teach tools that you can use in any form or even by themselves and it’s chosen by many improv schools as the form you’re working towards.
I’ve heard people say before that it may be a good form from a teaching perspective, but that it is not a good form for performance and audience enjoyment. I’m sure those people have never been to Harold night at UCB.
UCB has 3 levels of Harold teams – Loyd teams are the first teams improvisers are put in and from there they are picked for teams to perform at Harold night. Harold night has two parts, one of teams that just formed from Loyd night, and a second from teams of performers that have been doing it for longer. Harold night is a great show and audience enjoyment is up there – my cheeks were hurting from laughing at the end of it (my face cheeks, just to be precise!).
I saw Some Kid (very new Harold night team), Moose, Ice Cold Bev and Mermaid and that meant that I saw 4 completely different Harolds, with 4 completely different voices, and that I had never experience at other Harold nights I’ve been to before (that and the cheek ache!).
All of them and especially the 2nd half, more experienced teams, were surprising, very silly and in equal measures structured. And it was beautiful!
As an example, I’ll use the opening. Right from the very start you can see they’re playing on a different league. Most openings I’ve seen in London look and feel the same. 3 of the teams at the Harold night I’ve been to used the documentary as their opening. All the 3 documentaries were different and in the voice of the team doing them. Moose did a documentary in different locations and spots across the stage, Mermaid did a traditional documentary and Ice Cold Bev did a beautiful documentary in the dark with hints of sound and movement that really struck me as something special!
Second post about my experience in NY and one more that shows how much I loved it!
Written by Mariana Feijó