Should I drop $350 on another class?

Questions/Comments about the LA Class Program

Re: Should I drop $350 on another class?

Postby TerracottaMallCop » Sun Apr 03, 2011 5:21 am

Howie, A few things.

"I'm not trying to start a flame war here" = I'm trying to start a flame war here.

So far you have been met with some very reasonable, well-worded and patient replies but I think the rest of the posts have failed to acknowledge the gravity of the letter which you sent to the people who bust their asses maintaining the school we love so dearly.

Let's take a tour shall we.

1. Instructor Absent From Show - The UCB instructors are comedy writers, actors, directors, producers, etc, not just your Improv instructor. They don't just sit at coffee shops grading Improv homework waiting for the school day to start. You spoke as if your mother missed you play a tree in an elementary school play. I am sorry no one could critique your tree work.

2. Varying Levels of "Talent" in 101 - You only took 101, and an Intensive at that. You will always have a mixed bag of characters. Even in the professional realm you will always encounter a wide variety of skill, style, and attitude. Your hope for a completely homogenous group of people is not a reality nor is it a recipe for success.

3. "I am a smart, intellectual individual. I require a smart, thoughtful examination of my work." - This is a community theatre attitude. A circle-jerk of compliments does nothing for a performance group. Often a lack of feedback, thus inducing self-reflection, does just as much good as constructive criticism. You appear to want your instructor, a seasoned Improv veteran, to acknowledge your genius in a 101 class and fast track you to the big leagues.

Bottom line bro, you only finished 101, you have a LONG way to go. You seem to not even know if you like improv yet as you said very little about improv and a lot about the incompetence of everyone you encountered.

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Re: Should I drop $350 on another class?

Postby jgallagher » Tue Apr 05, 2011 4:06 pm

Just happened to see this post while exploring off of the NY board, and I thought I would respond from a similarly novice perspective.

For starters, I agree with Brynna and JiveTurkeyOnRye that part of the issue was that you attended the Intensive 101. Full disclosure: I just completed the 8-week 101 at the NY Center, and I absolutely think I needed all of those 8 weeks to figure things out. I have no acting background, and my only performance background is in competitive debate. For the first few weeks, all I could do was be overly aggressive, loud, and greedy in scenes, because that's what I'm used to doing when in front of an audience. That's where the benefit of the 8-week class kicked in: it afforded me time to reflect on my performance each week, to come up with new ideas and new approaches and try them out the next week, and to see a lot of UCB shows to see how my betters got the job done. It took about six weeks for things to start clicking, and I can say with absolute certainty that if the time frame had been condensed, like with an intensive class, it wouldn't have clicked.

Earlier posters in the thread have also talked about the purpose of 101. Everyone forms their own opinion on the strengths and weaknesses of the performers we see: we're hard-wired to create hierarchies as human beings. But training classes - especially 101 - aren't about separating the wheat from the chaff. They're about providing everyone with a common baseline to build upon in later classes. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want to take a course on Relatavistic Mechanics without first doing Physics 101, even if I'm the second coming of Isaac Newton. There was a noticeable spread of talent in my class, but that's fine: seeing the good people made the less-good people better, and working with the less-good people made the good people stronger because they had to be better communicators.

I'm naturally a bit of an egomaniac, so it hurt like the dickens to get taken down a few pegs those first few weeks of 101. To be completely frank, I'm not that good at improv, despite the best efforts of my teacher and classmates. But those best efforts did make me a better performer than I was when I started, which is really all that one can ask out of a 101 class. Like you, I hadn't planned on taking a 201 class up through about the halfway mark of 101. But those last few weeks, where it all started clicking? Hell, I'm doing 201 because I think it'll be fun.

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Re: Should I drop $350 on another class?

Postby Fernie » Wed Apr 06, 2011 4:14 pm

Well said, jgallagher.

101 is about learning the basics, the foundation that the rest of the program is based on. The more advanced levels (and certainly the Advanced Study program) do get detailed and more, well, advanced in the notes. In 101 you're still learning how to mix colors, there's time to critique your landscapes later. As a teacher, I can tell you that the school, the classes and the teachers at UCB care very much about the individual progress of those in their classes.

You will ALWAYS have a mix of ability in any class. Just like in any class of any type, there will be people with different strengths and weaknesses. Focusing on what others need to work on or their shortcomings is only going to prevent an improviser from improving him or herself. If that's the way it's going to be looked at (judging and comparing those in class/performing with you,) stand up might be more up your alley. Improv is a very collaborative thing by nature. That's what makes it interesting to me.

Also, if you think that people got into the improv business to create a "heavy, recurring revenue stream", whoa boy. Anyone who got into improv for the money is a world class dummy.

Lastly, I would like to say that this thread needs WAY more animated .gifs.

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Re: Should I drop $350 on another class?

Postby jokerface » Sun Apr 17, 2011 4:08 pm

Just an FYI, there are other improv schools in LA that charge $10 or more for beginner student shows. The theater needs to pay the people out front letting your friends in to the show, as well as the person running lights & sound in the booth. They're not all volunteers.

I also feel like as far as classes are concerned, you're always going to find a varying level of skills and experience from your classmates. You can either see this as an opportunity or a problem. If you want to continue with improv without tearing your hair out, I suggest you start seeing the opportunities that have been given to you.

Furthermore, most people form practice groups, which are smaller than the class & give you not only more chances to be in scenes, but more 1 on 1 coaching. Every school you go to will encourage students to do this.

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Re: Should I drop $350 on another class?

Postby StevieMackRadio » Tue Apr 19, 2011 7:59 pm

Dude, at least you had a “show”! I went to another improv school here in LA and took the basic class for $350. because that’s what the inattentive audition staff person suggested after not paying attention to the audition. Then my awesome class instructor was like dude, you should be in the advanced class. I was like, “Yes, and…” (pun intended) He really was great too, lots of energy and funny, made learning fun.

I continued with the basic class (because of his enthusiasm) and was so glad I did because, although I am really good at improv, just learning the space work, the "yes and", the games and the show being bigger than the individual really helped make me a better player with fundamental knowledge that I didn’t have before.

I would have moved on to take the advanced classes there but after attended a couple of free-for-all sessions at UCB theater (where they picked people from the audience to play), I fell in love! UCB seems to be the place I have and will have the most fun, it seems more urban and hip and …hell, you get to do a friggin show at the end of the class! (which I didn’t know before this thread)

I’m ready to enroll at UCB, I’ll even take the basics all over again if I have to, it’s a process not an event. I intend to make connections, network, participate and have fun…’aint that what it’s really all about anyway?

Much love and continued success on this awesome journey…well, at least until that fateful event on Dec 21, 2012… LOL

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Re: Should I drop $350 on another class?

Postby littlelucy » Sat Apr 23, 2011 3:29 pm

I was really lucky and had the opposite experience in 101. I don't really know how to describe it other than to say it was like magic - our teacher was amazing and we all had incredible chemistry and worked really well together. She was really great about figuring out what our individual styles were (we were all at different levels obviously) and getting us to really get to know and respect each other and be supportive. As a result, I think we did far better work in her class than any of our individual "talent" or experience would otherwise have allowed for.

That said, 201 and 301 have been a huge disappointment. I haven't had that same rapport with either of my teachers, which is completely normal, but the real problem has been that for the most part the classes have been full of humorless egomaniacs who seem to think that working in a class with others is beneath them and that they're going to get straight on a Harold team the day they finish 401. People master things, especially art forms, because they're dedicated and put in millions of hours and have a degree of humility and a sense of humor about it. My 101 teacher had two rules that she stressed over and over again, 1) the most important person in a scene is your partner, and 2) don't be a dbag. If you can't be respectful and generous towards your classmates and teacher, even if you think they all suck, you probably shouldn't take another class because not only are you wasting your own time and money, you are wasting everyone else's as well.

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