You never know what you're going to see at an improv comedy show?and that's the beauty of it. Read on to see what you should expect at a show or class and to learn just how it is that actors can put their scenes together so fast.
Even when their characters are arguing, improv comics are working from a philosophy of trust and agreement?necessary ingredients for acting together with no script. Improv comedy encompasses a broad array of styles, with the major division between short form?quick, self-contained games?and long form?a series of multiple, interconnected scenes featuring distinct beats. Accordingly, a given performance might resemble a one-act play, a Saturday Night Live?style sketch scene, or a high-energy game show. Most rely on audience suggestions to spark the flow of fresh ideas, however, and some even weave brave audience members into the action.
Perhaps the most famous long-form style is the Harold, in which performers build continuous scenes that develop and intermingle in surprising ways. The unusual name arises from a joke, according to developer Del Close's biography, The Funniest One in the Room. As Close asked his collaborators what to call the new form, someone sarcastically yelled, "Well, Harold's a nice name." Appropriately for a form devoted to spontaneous absurdity, the name stuck.
This comic form also has roots in one of America's darkest eras: the Great Depression. While working for the Works Progress Administration, Viola Spolin needed a way to teach basic theater precepts to unschooled actors of various ages and backgrounds, so she created a series of theater games that focused on the playfulness at the heart of acting. In the 1950s, her son, Paul Sills, applied her principles at the short-lived but influential Compass Players on Chicago's South Side, and, later, at The Second City?one of the most prominent comedy companies of the 20th century, with alumni including John Belushi, Tina Fey, and Steve Carell.
GO-FAME Youth Theatre Company started as a means of transporting children to another world. Its first production, Alice in Wonderland, taught 60 students at Minnie Gant Elementary School how to travel down the rabbit hole while providing them with an expressive outlet. With their newfound skills, that cast of first through fifth graders performed for full audiences at the University Theater at CSULB in October 2005.
Since then, GO-FAME has expanded into a theatre program for all youth in the community, but its mission remains the same: to encourage youth to explore the arts and expand their skills. When they walk out on stage, students leave behind their old selves and step into the role of performers, and GO-FAME teaches them how. Several weeks of acting lessons and rehearsals preempt annual productions for friends and family. Past performances have included Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Dear Edwina, and The Paper Bag Bandit.
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Gabriel Hall, owner of Yoga World Studios, discovered yoga at the age of 19 while pursuing his degree in philosophy. Dr. Allen Arnette—already the clinical director of the Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Department—began studying yoga as a way of researching the role mental well-being plays in healing physical ailments. Katherine Ostrout studied dance science at Cal State Long Beach and turned to Pilates after a ballet injury laid her low. These three weave their diverse backgrounds into the rich tapestry of talent made up by Yoga World’s team of yogis.
Having studied extensively in particular schools of yoga, instructors bring their individual training into the studio, focusing on disciplines that range from the physically challenging to mentally reflective, and include Iyengar, Ashtanga, Viniyoga, and Anusara. In addition to their regular yoga lessons, the Yoga World team also leads mat-Pilates classes, workshops, and private instruction. They use the art of yoga for healing in one-on-one sessions of Thai yoga therapy, which blends shiatsu massage with acupressure, or they coordinate beachside retreats full of yoga, surfing, and yoga-surfing.
One way to get an exceptionally close look at picturesque Alamitos Bay is to ride atop its churning surf on one of Long Beach Hydrobikes's stable, pedal-powered water cycles. The company ensures that renters catch the bay's most noteworthy sights, providing them with a map detailing the location of a bird sanctuary as well as a cove where jellyfish delicately billow in certain months. Avid pedalers generally cruise at speeds of up to 7 miles per hour, exercising bodies with a workout that takes advantage of water resistance to jettison excess calories out to sea. As there is virtually no risk of capsizing, riders may wear anything from a bathing suit to a water-soluble prom dress. The hydrobikes come equipped with storage compartments, drink holders, and a wealth of extra space to invite pets along for the ride, free of charge.
From 18 studios scattered around Los Angeles, Lori Moran Music Studios’ armada of instructors offers all-ages voice, piano, guitar, violin, and composition classes. With teachers who have worked on films such as Dreamgirls and Dance Flick, world-touring operatic productions, and Grammy-nominated choral CDs, the school can cater to virtually every musical taste—from classical to jazz to pop. Students choose the emphasis of their lessons, whether they want to work on their public performance skills, write their own songs, sight-read scores, or simply be able to play musical chairs during a power outage. Many will also get the chance to show off in recitals, concerts, and showcases.
Tucked away in a refurbished 1940s barbershop, Studio DeLucca founder Khobe DeLucca and her team of jewelers festoon baubles of recycled silver and gold with gems sourced from artisans and fair-labor suppliers. Collections of stackable jewelry, such as amethyst bracelets and turquoise-drop necklaces, add a subtle sparkle to wrists and décolletages. Cocktail rings decorate favorite fingers with stones such as ocean jasper and green chrysoprase, and diamond-paved cigar-band rings exhibit old-world craftsmanship that hearkens back to the sparkling sidewalks of ancient Rome. A workshop series teaches novice lapidaries basic techniques to craft their own necklaces, earrings, and enamel jewelry.