Awoo! Awoo! Awoo!

Tugging another player into the group.

May 21, 2010; Keene, NH: A small group of improvers trying to get a friend to join the fun by "tugging him in" with an imaginary rope. Effects added in Photoshop.

“With any part you play, there is a certain amount of yourself in it. There has to be, otherwise it’s just not acting. It’s lying.” ~ Johnny Depp.

I have noticed recently that almost every single day I get a hit from someone on WordPress who’s searching “ActingOut”.  I do tend to post pictures or snippets from the group, but rarely anything more.  So, I don’t know who is searching “Acting Out” constantly, and what they’re looking for, but I’ll tell you what it is to me:

I am an intern for ActingOut, a local community improv theatre group for the youth in my area.  We do many things, the most basic levels of which are:  community education, skill-building, and providing a safe and nurturing environment for the area’s youth.  That’s the most basic level of the services and such that the group provides.  There’s all sorts of definitions, but I find that a lot of them are incredibly personal.

This is my fifth season with the troupe.  I joined as a sophomore in high school when the improv group was first formed.  That was a short season, and I remember at the end of it there were very few people there.  In the end, just me and two friends.  Both the others stayed with it until they graduated high school, but they drop in every now and then.  I’m with it still.  Sometimes, I don’t know why I am.  It makes me so mad sometimes.  And it certainly eats up all my free time.  But I do stay because of the students.  Most of them become my friends, and I enjoy teaching them, and learning from them.

My expertise?  The games.  Sometimes I think that teaching the games is just my justification for watching far more Whose Line Is It Anyways? in my free time.  But that’s what I think I’m best at.  I’ve helped create a few games, and I keep teaching ones from Whose Line I think we can pull off.  I’m waiting for the right musical talent to try out Greatest Hits.  Some day, wouldn’t it be nice, if we wrote enough letters, we could get Ryan Styles or Colin Mochrie to cameo at our 24-hour fundraiser event?  That’s my dream, but it’ll never happen.

Teaching is a lot of fun.  All my student are immensely talented, in such a way that I cannot fairly capture it in my photographs, no matter how many I take.  I get the privilege to watch each of the students grow.  The only film I have available online is very old stuff, at least four years old, and the talent has changed.  I’m not saying that the videos are bad – Superheroes is one of my favourites, period.  But the 90-60-30 isn’t the strongest we’ve done.  Still, it’s an example of some of our “silly” work (despite the poor quality).

We don’t focus on the comedy improv as much as we focus on issue oriented improv.  That’s where we get our funding, and I’m not going to lie, it is important.  The games are used to teach skills, so we can do the issue-based improv better.  Unlike a traditional improv troupe, we are not there to entertain the audience.  We are there to educate them.  And what makes the group influential is the fact that they’re not well-dressed, stiff professionals.  They are the youth of the day.  They’re fourteen-year-olds, seventeen-year-olds.  All of whom firmly believe the things they say.  They are some of the strongest and most talented individuals I know.

And it is a pleasure to teach them and know them.

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something to think about

"You know, I don't know if you'll understand this or not, but sometimes, even when I'm feeling very low, I'll see some little thing that will somehow renew my faith. Something like that leaf, for instance - clinging to its tree despite wind and storm. You know, that makes me think that courage and tenacity are about the greatest values a man can have. Suddenly my old confidence is back and I know things aren't half as bad as I make them out to be. Suddenly I know that with the strength of his convictions a man can move mountains, and I can proceed with full confidence in the basic goodness of my fellow man. I know that now. I know it." ~ End of Act I in the musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

competing for the house cup

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