Hey there, awesome people!!!! I’M SO EXCITED to introduce you to our guest improviser – Lauren Morris, who will be running a workshop with us this following Monday on August 11th! Details are here! I have been honored to reach out to Lauren before our workshop and asked a few questions, so that you, folks, can have an idea about the persona of our expert and know what to “expect” (it’s funny to use this term in improv, right? ))) Anyway, MEET LAUREN MORRIS!
First of all, where can we see you, any events or jams happening soon?
Yes! Come check out “Keep It Broad” on August 23 at Stardust Coffee and Video. After our set we will then host Saturday Night Jams. This is an open jam for any team wishing to get some stage time. You need to get an assigned time slot so show up at 7:30 and we will make sure we get you up on stage. Sets will either be 15 or 20 min depending on how many teams sign up. So if you have been wanting to debut a new format or try out that duo set you talk about all the time, now is the chance.
That sounds awesome! Can we help in any way?
Showing up is the only thing we ask! Thank you though! Supporting each other as improvisers strengthens the community.
Lauren, will you tell a little about your improv background and what brought you to improv, initially?
- I started while I was in college and actually had a “bad”experience. While auditioning for a college improv group I had a horrible audition and I “quit” improv. I stayed away for many years. Once I was married and had children things like “fear” became very different for me. One of my children has a rare medical condition that can be progressive and degenerative (he is currently stable) and it was time to make sure that I was doing some things for myself to make sure I could be the best parent for my family.
Once I opted back into improv, I fell in love with it all over again. I have studied at The Annoyance Theatre & Bar in Chicago. I have also studied locally at SAK Comedy Lab. Other instructors and workshops have included Bill Arnett, Craig Cackowski, Greg Hess, Susan Messing, Rebecca and Rich Sohn, Mark Sutton, and Mick Napier. I also produced and performed in a successful long form improv show at the Orlando Fringe Festival this past year.
What excites you the most about improv?
- The ability to be anything or anyone at any time. I don’t have to worry about anything except myself and my scene partners. It is very freeing!
How improv skills help you in everyday life?
When I returned to improv, I recognized skills and opportunities I did not understand due to lack of life experience. I have taken many of the skills in improv (paying attention, being present, patterns, etc) and developed programs for parents whose children have disabilities as well as young adults with Down syndrome. Of course, the improv skills also helped me to be a better facilitator of such programs!
What would you recommend to a beginner, who wants to get ahead in improv
- When I started I wanted to be “good” right away. However, improv is a “doing” art meaning you have to be rehearsing, workshopping, or performing to strengthen your skill set. Beginners should look for opportunities to play. That may be in a class but it can also mean getting some of your friends together in your living room and running exercises, games and formats. Watching improv is also very helpful. You will find you connect with some players. When you do, pay attention to their persona on stage. What is it that appeals to you and how can you take that and make it your own? It’s okay to also criticize performances with your friends after watching a show. It doesn’t mean you lack respect of the players, it means you are trying to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. Some shows you may see as awful and your friends might think it was brilliant. Discuss it and find out why you differ. It helps develop your own sense of self as an improviser while also understanding others. The biggest gift you can give yourself is time. It takes time to get those improv muscles on automatic. Keep moving forward. Trying new things. Failing at what you do. Through failing you learn what isn’t working. When you feel really uncomfortable in an exercise it’s not because you aren’t any good it’s because you are using muscles and growing. Embrace it and keep learning.
What’s improv to you (your personal definition)?
– Improv to me means I get to play, laugh, and be surrounded by creative people while exploring my creative side!
What’s your improv philosophy?
– My improv philosophy is there is no way to “win” improv. I am more comfortable in a community of collaboration versus competition and working from a place of emotional choices while supporting my cast on stage.
What are your plans, dreams, goals, hopes in improv and other improv endeavors?
- My hope and dreams for improv in this community is to have multiple theaters that explore multiple forms of improv. I would love to see a physical building that was an “improv community center” where if you needed a stage, you could get one.
- My current plans for improv are to continue to play and learn. This year I will go to Camp Improv Utopia over Labor Day weekend and take some workshops from some great and long time players. I plan on continuing with my current all female long form troupe “Keep It Broad”. I am also going to be coaching an all male improv group and can’t wait to see where that adventure leads. I also plan on submitting to the Orlando Fringe Festival lottery for next year’s Fringe Festival and of course the concept is going to be improv based!
What should our students expect when coming to workshop?
– I am a high energy player so I bring high energy to my workshops. There isn’t a lot of down time. I also will push you into places you may have not explored thus you might be uncomfortable with the new ground you are breaking. I also like to give feedback that is positive but also constructive. I cannot stand when the only note I get in a scene is “good work” thus I don’t do that to other improvisers.
Thanks, Lauren for such rich answers and we will see you on Monday, August 11th at our improv workshop!
- Yes, I’m excited!
I hope to see you guys there, and make sure to stop by at Sturdust Coffee and Video on Augyst 23rd to support Lauren and her troupe! Let’s help them make it a monthly jam!