Saturday, April 22, 2017

Postdoc Improv Class

I attended an Improv class arranged for MIT postdocs. It was different (much better) that the class that I described here.  It was a two-hour class in which three instructors from Improv-Boston introduced around 20 postdocs with the concept.
We started with a counting down exercise, where we counted from 8 to 1 then 7 to 1, etc. For each count, you have to move one of your hands/legs. This is to help breathing and getting comfortable about the situation.

The first task was to 'imagine an extra-human power for yourself and pick a name for yourself based on that, and then act that name'. For example, my extra-human power was to 'be able to impeach any president', my name was 'Shahin-the-impeacher', and the action was just 'playing throwing off something'. 

The first real improv excessive was 'list-5-things' where you asked a random participant a random question, and they had to answer with listing 5 items. For example, I was asked about 'my sports that I like to play' and after answering with a list of 5 (after listing each item, others cheered), I asked another postdoc 'list 5 animals that you want to reincarnate to'. There is an element of surprise, and you have to answer without knowing the questions.

Another exercise was about 'gift-presenting'. Two participant attended, the first one pretended to give the other a gift. Based on the way he/she acted, the second one should improv what the gift was and thank him/her for the gift. For example, I can pretend to give you a big, heavy bag, and you can thank me for giving you a bag of potato. Again, there should be an improvisation on what the gift is, and how to handle the question that follows it: 'how did you know that I need a bag of potato'?
For the next exercise, we were partitioned into groups of around 10 people. Each group had to advertise a product. The instructors throw random questions at each member. For example, our product was inspired by the problem of 'people not cleaning after their pet'. The first question was 'hat is the name of your product?', followed by 'how does it work?', 'where is your market?', 'what is your moto?', and so on. I was asked 'which celebrity uses your product?' and my answer was 'Peter Griffin'. Finally, we had to advertise our product with an improv act. One of our group members played the role of a dog, one was dog-walker, and I was the narrator. 

The next task was a random improv dialogue. I found this one the most interesting. Two people started a conversation with short sentences. The conversation followed by each person repeating the sentence of the other person, and adding 'And ...' where their sentence followed. For example, you could say 'I love Boston' and I could answer 'Yes, you love Boston, and I think the weather could be better in Boston'. Here, I am showing a sort of disagreement, but I do not use 'But'. This seems to be critical in continuing an improv dialogue.

In the final task, we were given a page where we wrote a problem on one side and the name of a random object on the other side. In pairs, we you to use improv to solve the problem of other person with your own object. For example, I had to provide a solution for 'not having enough time' with 'a pair of glasses'. It was quite challenging, and I think I was not creative enough in providing a solution.

I found the class very interesting and helpful. I am considering to register for the next class that starts in a few weeks, and ends just before my departure from Boston.

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