This July, 8 very lucky members were chosen to attend NAYD’s National Youth Festival in Kilkenny College. We were asked before we travelled down which workshop we would prefer. We got to chose from Viewpoints, Clowning, Improv, Acting for camera and Character Development. We were not told until we had arrived, which group we would be placed in. Both of us were put into John Delaney’s improv workshop.
The first day we all learned each other’s names, given that there was over 20 of us this was not an easy task! But we managed and soon enough we knew everyone’s name. Next we played the classic game “charades” we worked in teams and we had so much banter. Over the week we played many excellent games, we devised scenes and learned what makes a good story and what you have to include in a play. Towards the end of the week, with the final showcase looming over us, we began on fine tuning our improv skills. We would be given the opening sentence and we would have to just let the scene flow. The first time practicing improv was so daunting, you have this fear of you have to always be funny.
However the reality is, you don’t, so long as you accept offers given to you by your scene partner and you relinquish control, the scene will look good. We had the most amazing experience working with everyone in our group as well as our facilitator, arts train Jack, and a special thanks to the absolutely magical workshop facilitator John Delaney, who made the workshop an ever pleasant environment and bestowed so much improv knowledge unto us all.
As a wise man once said “Don’t be afraid to fail, in improv you’re going to fail, you just go out there and fail spectacularly.”
Our performance took place on Sunday and involved 21 actors playing 2 different parts. We were each assigned a number from 1 to 21 and, beginning with a number chosen at random by a member of the audience, two performers began a random scene outlined by John there and then. The one chosen by John on this occasion involved one actor playing a shopkeeper and the other a disgruntled customer.
Every 20 seconds one of the performers would stop to ask the audience a question, giving them 2 different options for what they intended to do to keep the scene moving. For example, the actor playing the shopkeeper might say “I’ve just been given a complaint, should I offer the customer a refund or try and argue my way out.”
The audience would vote for what they wanted the actor to do. During this time the other performer would swap places with another person in the class, meaning that the performer asking the question was returning to see a different face playing the same part. This was a really challenging format to work with but was also hugely enjoyable. It meant that we all had to think on our feet and work together to make the scene as good as possible. It built on and required many of the skills we had learned during the week in our workshops and was a great experience overall.
All in all, the week in Kilkenny studying improv was an experience we’ll never forget. We’ve learn things we couldn’t have imagined, made friends we’ll have for life, and above everything else, had a hell of a lot of fun!
had to think on our feet and work together to make the scene as good as possible. It built on and required many of the skills we had learned during the week in our workshops and was a great experience overall. All in all, the week in Kilkenny studying improv was an experience I’ll never forget. I learn things I couldn’t have imagined, made friends I’ll have for life, and above everything else, had a hell of a lot of fun!