Somewhere among a row of shophouses on South Bridge Road, an obscured second-storey unit is churning out an uproarious ruckus, quite often surprising anyone who walks by below.
The home-grown company that resides there is not in the business of disturbing the peace though (not intentionally anyway). On quite the contrary, The Improv Company is hoping to bring people together through improvised theatre.
Short for improvised theatre, improv is a form of scriptless theatre where performers extemporise stories, characters and dialogues, often with the audience’s inputs. In other words, performers act without rehearsals and memorising lines.
Sounds abstract? You bet!
Founded in 2013, The Improv Company is now Singapore’s biggest theatre company and conducts regular workshops that culminate in public performances. For those who are clueless about the art, you can sign up for a taster course: Improv For Everyone ($10). In this session, you will be introduced to the basic principles through fun games and exercises.
More experienced (or confident) folks can sign up for their other classes like Improv 101: Learning to Play ($300), Improv 201: Exploring Scenework ($300), Improv 301: Advanced Storytelling ($300) and more. Each course spans five weeks with a 3-hour class per week.
Here are some of the things you can expect.
The Improv Company encourages everyone to accept any forthcoming idea and to build on it.
Word association and role playing games make the bulk of the activities that you can play along to. These activities test your ability to respond to random situations in a fun-filled manner that allows you to get out of your head and be in the moment.
There’s even a singing game called “Bartender” where you sing your problems to the “bartender”, who then responds in the same tune.
Most Singaporeans have been raised with the stoic mentality of being a perfectionist. Our society isn’t that forgiving and it abhors failure. But one of the basic principles that The Improv Company advocates, is to embrace your failures.
And you can do so fabulously and without fear here.
At the end of the day, you are encouraged to experiment with new things with many like-minded individuals and you won’t be judged for it.
Improv is fun. But before you drown yourself in your own zeal, it pays to listen to what others say without interrupting. Very frequently, you’ll find yourself thrown into an entirely different direction in the workshop or on stage.
When that happens, you’ll be glad to know that your partner or your team will always have your back and make you look good. Improv is a team sport with a heavy emphasis on mutual trust.
I’m not going to lie, it takes a little courage in the beginning. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll come to realise that this art is all about honest reactions and making connections with people.
My only suggestion is to wear something comfortable; one second you’re a camel in the desert, and the next, a powerlifter who’s about to deadlift a whale.
After all, life isn’t scripted.
Prices: $10 (Improv For Everyone), $300 (Improv 101, Improv 201 & Improv 301)