A session at The Improv Company is something of a cross between an episode of Whose Line is it Anyway? and a theatre production where everyone’s just making things up as they go along. This Arab Street-flanking second-floor unit, shared with visual artist Belinda Fox, hosts introductory and intermediate (with a third level in the works) improv classes to take the aspiring quick-quipper through the ins and outs of fulfilling their Saturday Night Live aspirations.
Co-founder Kim Tan started the NUS Improvables in 2010 after performing with a troupe in the UK for two years. The Improv Company’s group of founders, including producer Hazel Ho, were a part of Tan’s university team interested to see improvisational theatre grow in Singapore.
The six-week beginner sessions cover the foundations of a good improvised skit. Character development, their relationships with others, and how to conjure a convincing environment through miming gestures are just a few of the topics covered. Games and exercises we participate in over two and a half hours turned out little scenes that were all crafted collaboratively on the fly – and the comedy, Tan says, comes naturally. ‘When we create something that’s honest and reflects reality, the truth will usually make people laugh,’ he explains.
The intermediate sessions go further in teaching narrative techniques and pattern recognisation, and players usually finish their six sessions with a show hosted by The Improv Company’s Tan and Ho. Some even go on to form their own troupes to perform in the nascent, but growing, scene in Singapore.
The positive universal improv principle of ‘Yes, and’ is reinforced at every turn. Tan says the positivity, teamwork and self-confidence that’s imparted to attendees tends to follow them into their everyday lives. ‘We’ve had one of our attendees tell us that he argues with his wife differently now,’ says Tan. ‘He listens to her more and reacts more positively.’ Ladies, take note.
3 Jln Pisang (8518 4738, improv.sg). Bugis MRT. From $250.