Students/Troupes/Abandonment Issues

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Students/Troupes/Abandonment Issues

Postby Terry » April 27th, 2011, 10:36 am

Hi, I’m new. I take classes at Coldtowne.

So there was a group of committed players who were excited to move on together after Level 1. Yay, IMPROV! Now that group is whittling down even more as Level 2 closes and the “Are you staying with this?” Level 3 question comes into play. I assume this pattern is common, but are there any troupes that have stayed together since Level 1? Were you discouraged losing classmates along the way? Does it become easier to create chemistry with new players as you get more advanced in your practice?

I’m definitely going to miss the chemistry playing with some of my old classmates. (Insert requisite sad face here.)
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Postby Marc Majcher » April 27th, 2011, 11:37 am

The middle chunk of Improv For Evil started out in level one at the Hideout together, and we're still performing together to this day. We've lost people and gained people over the years, but having that through line from day one has been great.
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Postby Roy Janik » April 27th, 2011, 11:50 am

Kareem and I went through classes together. Of everyone who went through with us, we're the only ones who still perform.

It was sad that not more of them continued on, but ultimately, you find kindred spirits to connect and play with.
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Postby jillybee72 » April 27th, 2011, 11:57 am

Yes, Terry. It gets much easier to gain connection to new players as you continue practicing improv. At the advanced level, you can shake hands with someone for the first time and hop up onstage and do really connected, wonderful scenes with them.

I get to play every now and then with one guy who was in my level two and three at iO but other than that, no one! No one!
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Re: Students/Troupes/Abandonment Issues

Postby B. Tribe » April 27th, 2011, 12:10 pm

Terry wrote:...are there any troupes that have stayed together since Level 1?


I doubt an entire class has come through a program intact. People take Level 1 for a lot of different reasons, and a lot of those reasons don't include performing.

Terry wrote:Were you discouraged losing classmates along the way?


It depended on why they left, I suppose. A bunch of people dropped after Level 1 due to disinterest or life. Another guy left after Level 2 because he didn't want to do the Level 3 shows. Others dropped or waited due to time constraints or life changes. The ones that hurt the most were the ones who dropped between Level 5 and 6. One moved away and the other needed to focus on career stuff.

Discouraged isn't quite the right word, though, since I was always planning on doing the whole program no matter who I ended up graduating with. Disappointed is more apt for me.

Terry wrote:Does it become easier to create chemistry with new players as you get more advanced in your practice?


Yes.
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Postby Terry » April 27th, 2011, 12:20 pm

Disappointed is more apt for me.


Yeah, I think this is more what I meant. I'm definitely sticking with it, I just wish some of my other classmates were, as well. It was SO MUCH FUN with them.

Y'all are encouraging. Thank you. I'm interested to see Improv for Evil now, too. Your site is great!
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Postby kaci_beeler » April 27th, 2011, 1:12 pm

Ultimately it's for the best, people have to want to be there, want to work, want to try.

I'd rather have people leave early than not give 100% when they show up.
I've known people who checked out mentally first, and that was almost harder to work with than the disappointment I felt when they finally quit.

You have to want it, hard.
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Postby dancrumb » April 27th, 2011, 2:00 pm

I think the drop-off between L1 and L2 is pretty normal.

A lot of people try Improv for the first time and, for one reason or another, decide that it's not for them.

After L2, I think most attrition is due to other life pressures such as family or career commitments.

I know that I had to say goodbye to a group of people that I'd gone through 4 levels with, because work commitment had meant I'd missed a whole bunch of classes... in fact it's happening again and it's difficult to stay positive about the process when you lose the regular contact with classmates and teachers.

On the plus side, I've been lucky enough to perform with a number of troupes and they are a lot more flexible when it comes to accommodating external pressures.

It sucks, but for every group you leave, there's a new one to join and learning to play with new people only makes you better.
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Postby Jastroch » April 27th, 2011, 4:06 pm

Terry,

It's pretty common. Every class is different, and from time to time a level 1 makes it through relatively intact, but more often than not classes get combined. The upside is you meet a lot of new people to play with and get even more experience from a whole swath of performers.

I was thinking the other day how fun it'd be to form a troupe with awesome people who had to drop out for whatever reason after level 3. It'd be a pretty gigantic troupe.
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Postby valetoile » April 27th, 2011, 9:59 pm

Just think of it this way- you felt really close to the people in your level one class after just 6-8 weeks of class with them. You'll grow just as close to the people in your level two class, and your level three and four and five and six class. And whatever troupe you end up playing with, you'll feel even closer to them after rehearsing and performing for months. The mix if people in your first class wasn't a perfect unreproducible mix, it was just random chance brought closer by learning and discovering together. And you can recreate that with other people, and it's even easier once you know yourself, and you're with players who know themselves, and you can seek out the people you feel most compatible with. I never took any classes, but I found a group of folks that I feel completely compatible with, and after five years of performing together we're closer than any other group I've ever been a part of. Classes are a great way to jump start the connection process, but definitely not the only way.
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Postby Katherine » April 27th, 2011, 10:29 pm

The current Level 5 class at The Hideout has been together since Level 1. We started with LOTS of people in 1, but by 2 were down to seven students. A few new folks joined for a few levels and then left again, but the seven of us have stayed together. Some of us have been discussing what to do next; here suddenly seems to be an array of possibilities.

I'm at once excited to feel the fresh energy of being with new people and hopeful that the group I started with won't disbanded completely. That may mean we are starting a new class together in a month or so or that we'll attend electives together or keep getting together at each others' houses. In some form, I hope we'll still be learning together.
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Postby KathyRose » April 27th, 2011, 10:43 pm

Hopefully, you're learning to play with anyone, not just the people who were in class with you. Let them go. Your success as an improviser is not dependent on them. They're like a security blanket that you need to grow out of, anyway.

For several years, I took classes with the Austin Ballroom Dancers. During classes, they had everyone change partners every few minutes. This was very disconcerting to couples who were taking a class together. They only wanted to learn to dance with each other. But the instructors were focused on teaching true social dancing skills, so the men could lead anyone in a dance and the ladies could follow anyone. Couples who only danced with each other would fall into movement patterns that only worked for them. The same can happen with improv.

After you form a successful troupe, its unique pattern of play can become a thing of beauty; but being willing and able to play with a variety of players will make you a better improviser in the long run.

Sign up for the Fancy Pants Mashup. Sign up for Maestro. Attend Shana Merlin's improv mixers at SVT. Start meeting new people you'd like to play with - people whose energy level and interests match yours.
What is to give light must endure burning. - Viktor Frankl
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Postby Miggy » May 1st, 2011, 6:32 pm

Hi Terry! I love that you're enjoying improv so much (this is Mike McGill btw).

I'm not some wisened old hand at this, but I think this scenario happens quite a bit. Most of the troupe i was a part of met in level 2 and stayed together for a while through all the classes and then for a while beyond that but we added or lost a couple along the way.

so yah...keep at it, have fun and be sure to let me know when you have a show you're in. I'd love to go.
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Postby Timmy R » May 2nd, 2011, 3:11 am

Does the promise/terror of performance magnetize troupes? Make it more likely for people to stick around or leave?
I'm curious, cos in Melbourne, we have a large w'shop system but very limited company stage opportunity, and a good quota of students who have (only) trained together for some time.
Has it ups. There'll be a good charge of trust amongst some and risk is available.
Has its downs. Folk can fall into a soft rut and rely completely on a teacher to pull them out, rather than each other. The impro becomes social and they become passive addicts.

I'm meandering off topic perhaps, but at some point, the big issue, genuine trust, needs to be galvanized by the furnace of performance. Who can you fall safely into when that panic strikes?

So, i guess I'm wondering, does the availability of performance in Austin keep folk engaged longer? Confront that passivity?

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Postby Jastroch » May 2nd, 2011, 10:57 am

KathyRose wrote:Sign up for the Fancy Pants Mashup. Sign up for Maestro. Attend Shana Merlin's improv mixers at SVT. Start meeting new people you'd like to play with - people whose energy level and interests match yours.


For everyone out there who might not be aware, there's a weekly long form Jam Sunday nights at ColdTowne at 8:30 with Oh, Science and Jam City, the first Saturday of the month. All are welcome.
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