You gotta see shows!
When I first moved to Chicago I only had two weekly commitments: My Second City Conservatory class, every Tuesday night, and my Weekly iO class. 3 or 4 other nights of the week I was seeing shows. Talking about shows,laughing at shows, breaking down what I learned and liked and would never forget about shows. Bonding with my classmates over our shared experiences and falling in love with our new stage heroes. In class, often times a teacher would ask what our favorite shows were that we saw that week, and I was always stunned when certain people didn’t have anything to report. What in the world were they doing!
Seeing other people perform and create is one of the best ways to learn about this art form. Certain aspects of the process don’t click in place until you actually see it done in front of you.
I think now that this city is bursting with amazing opportunities to perform (which is a great thing!) young performers are skipping over a little bit of the joy of just learning. Having some growing months to just learn and watch. We are so fortunate to have the chance to get up on stage and put our newly discovered skills to use– but sometimes the pure joy of watching and supporting others gets pushed to the side. We all get so many facebook invitations, emails and flyers for shows. We cannot see them all but we can certainly see some of them! Make it part of your improv journey to keep up with it. Once a week even. See a polished sketch show. See an underground back of a bar-prov to support a friend. Revisit one of the teams that made you fall in love with improv. It’s all good and it’s all going to help you be inspired and be a supportive player in this community.
Some people take notes when watching shows. If this helps you by all means, take notes! Some people just watch and listen. If this is your method, heck yeah, sit back and open those ears!
Make plans with the people you study or perform with to see a show and then have time to chat about if afterwards. I truly think this is a fundamental part of the process to understand this art form and to be able to open your mind up to new and different kind of play. Inspiration comes from what happened to you in the past, what happens to you all day long and certainly comes from watching other people create.
Summer is a great time to get outside and live your life so you actually have something to use on stage, and it’s also a great time to remember how nice it feels to sit back, have a drink and watch people make things up.