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Intro to Improv classes to start tonight

Members of the Bermuda Improv Group are preparing for the launch of a new improv class. (Photograph supplied)

Improv comedy is returning to the stage in Bermuda, and the public are being invited to try stepping into the spotlight themselves.

The newly launched Bermuda Improv Group is set to start improv classes from tonight for those who are interested in developing their skills and having fun.

Toby Butterfield, a veteran improviser and teacher for the class, said: “It's a very special thing to take a group of nervous strangers and see them relaxed and open and laughing an hour later.

“I've seen this happen, without fail, dozens of times in the 18 years I've been doing this. Students gain comfort quickly when they're only being asked to do things that are fun and easy.

“We take baby steps together and we're all too busy playing silly games to judge anyone. As a teacher it's my job to help everyone feel safe and to go at the right pace and I love doing that with beginners. It's all the more rewarding to see that warmth and connection grow between seemingly diverse people.”

Improv – improvised theatre – challenges performers to work without a script and make everything up on the spot.

A spokeswoman for the group said that while the concept may seem daunting, it involves learnable skills like listening, being present in the moment and collaboration

“The first rule of improv is ‘yes, and…’, which means you accept what your scene partner offers you, and you build on it to create a whole new scene or story that never existed before,” she said.

“It’s what we all do in real life all the time; we don’t have a script for our daily interactions and conversations. Improv teaches us to harness these natural skills to use them deliberately.

“The second rule of improv is, ‘make your scene partner look good’ – this means there’s no pressure on you to be funny or come up with brilliant ideas. Meanwhile, your partner is busy making you look good, so between you it generates this ego-free zone of creativity and endless possibility.”

She added that the skills used in improv can also be beneficial off the stage, improving communication and team building.

Catherine Hay, a long-time improvisers, said: “Improv should be mandated at the maternity ward for all new parents. Only way to stay sane with a baby – or a toddler – is to constantly ‘yes, and …’ them.”

The Intro to Improv class is scheduled to run ten weeks starting on Monday, with classes held at Alchemy Gym on Reid Street between 7pm and 9pm.

The class costs $200, although the spokeswoman said some needs-based concessions are available.

Those who complete the course will be invited to take part in BIG Jim – a weekly improve practice session intended to help people further build their skills.

“This is the pool from which improv shows open to the public will emerge,” the spokeswoman added.

“We have our sights on offering a show in early June, so watch this space.”

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Published January 16, 2023 at 11:30 am (Updated January 16, 2023 at 11:42 am)

Intro to Improv classes to start tonight

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