Tag Archives: upfront theatre

Improvisation in Life

img_0194_smThe time I’ve spent at the The Upfront Theatre over the years in classes and performance have made me a better human being. I enjoyed writing this Insider Blog for Bellingham Experience at Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism. Take a look at the article, and then take a class and see a show. 

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New Adventures

I haven’t posted here in a while. I’ve been busy with…kids home for the summer,  enjoying the amazing Pacific Northwest outdoors, doing improv at The Upfront Theatre, acting in 48-hour Theatre festivals at the loveable Idiom Theatre, and starting a new project that I’m just dieing to share.

Family Planning and Other Stories, a TV pilot by the sharp Writer/Director Sue Mattson, will be filming in mid-October. Guess who’s in it? ME! I’m fortunate to be appearing (and learning a lot) in my role as Kat, a middle-aged mother who, upon encouragement from her volatile daughter Riley (played by the talented Sarah Waisman), heads into the unpredictable world of on-line dating.

The female-centered script is sharp and full of hilarious characters including Kat’s potential suitors, played by the talented Bill McQuaid and Michael Mitchell.

Check out our Indiegogo fundraising campaign for more details, and make a donation to help get this witty, playful project off the ground.

I also couldn’t help sharing this hilarious commercial starring the versatile Michael Mitchell in You Go Through Vladimir.

Help us get started at Indiegogo today, as there are only 23 days left to reach our $2000 goal. Stay tuned as I’ll be posting more insider details and photos here over the next couple of months.

Please comment here and tell me what you think.

Cheers to new adventures!

Great Village Books Events This Week

I have to share the successes of two local writers. My pal and fellow memoirist Jolene Hanson will be reading from her memoir tonight at our beloved local book store, Village Books, as part of the class she took at Western Washington University called Memories to Memoirs, taught by the celebrated Laura Kalpakian. Readings begin at 6 so please come sit by me. Way to go Jolene!

Also, the multi-talented Mike McQuaide, author of 75 Classic Rides: Washington, The Best Road Biking Routes and several other titles will be interviewed on our own local radio show and podcast the Chuckanut Radio Hour this coming Thursday, May 24, at 7 PM at the Leopold. Mike and I collaborated a couple of years ago on an article in Entertainment News NW on Youth Improv courses at my favorite Upfront Theatre (I wrote an article and Mike took the photos). Please come by to congratulate Mike after watching his live interview and/or listen to show.

Improv and Writing: A Parallel Training

I’ve been talking in the voice of a sophisticated Southern belle for about 24 hours. It rendered my husband speechless for hours and annoyed my children to the point of embarrassment within only a few minutes. Last night, I tried it out on stage in my improv class at the stellar Upfront Theatre.

I’ve been reading the book Acting on Impulse by Carol Hazenfield. The latter part of her book emphasizes the deepening of characters and story. I realized that each exercise Hazenfield proposes in her chapter “Playing with Fire: Creating Richer Characters” would also help me create deeper characters in my writing. By inhabiting the character, becoming them, physically, emotionally, and vocally, their thoughts, dialogue, and vocabulary come forward organically. I don’t have to “think” about it, she’s just there. After “becoming” the Southern belle, Sallie Mae, for only a few minutes, my posture, sentence structure, temperament, the speed and harmony of my voice, and even my vocabulary changed instantly. I’ve heard many of my teachers say, “we can act at the top of our intelligence.” I only yesterday realized that my intelligence also included the superficial wisdom of a proud Southern woman who likes to flirt and be pampered. I only needed to let her out.

Perhaps as revenge, my husband has issued me a challenge: to next inhabit a character from Fargo, ND. I’m not sure if his challenge was simply to escape Sallie Mae’s relentless drawl, or to see if she is just a fluke of my imagination, but I’m going to give it a try. Although I’m having a difficult time getting Sallie Mae to leave, I’m looking forward to finding my new friend from North Dakota, and perhaps someday, developing her as a character in a book that I have yet to conceive.

I encourage every writer to “become” their characters for more than a few hours to fully understand their inner workings, their approach to the world, and their motivations within a story’s setting.

Which character are you ready to become?

Improv at Work

To follow up on yesterday’s post, Improvisation in Life, incorporating improv principles can also help your career. Thanks to my friend Clare for this article  by Bryce Christiansen over at the Savvy Intern about Tina Fey’s business acumen as described in her humor memoir Bossy Pants. The focus is how she uses improv in her relationships at work.

I love Bossy Pants and would like my natural voice to come forth as freely in my writing as hers does.

Classes with the theme of “improv for business” are available across the country, including at my favorite Upfront Theatre, so if you’re serious about your work and haven’t yet taken one, get out there. It will change the way you look at your job, and probably make it a lot more fun!

(photo courtesy of the Savvy Intern)

Improvisation in Life

My good friend Tracy recently mentioned that she was studying improv (improvisational acting) every day without really trying because the lessons of improv are the lessons of life. She’s not the first one to say that, I’ve heard it many times, but I think it’s finally sinking in for me. When you incorporate the tenets of improv in your interactions with others, you’ll appreciate your relationships more and the quality of your life will probably improve.

Thanks to Billy Tierney, Bellingham’s Upfront Theatre Artistic Director, I found the TED speech below, The Way of Improvisation by storyteller, poet, and improviser Dave Morris of Victoria, BC. If you’re not familiar with TED talks, they’re short presentations by some of the worlds most interesting people who have “ideas worth spreading.”

My three years of improv study have certainly changed my life for the better. Dave’s advice (to play and be present, let yourself fail, listen well, say yes…and, play the game, and relax and have fun) is not hard work like changing your diet or exercise regime, its something you can incorporate all day long in your existing lifestyle.

Check out his video, give it a try in your life, and let me know how it goes for you!