Lake Tahoe Community College’s improv program keeps evolving as more colleges across the state develop their own off-the-cuff theater groups.
LTCC Theater Director Susan Boulanger started seriously developing the college’s improvisation group, Random Acts of Improv, last year. She saw how popular the form of theater was becoming and she wanted to capitalize on that interest. Since 2008, improv programs have been increasingly common at community colleges across California, she said.
The LTCC group performed once last year. For the 2012-13 school year, Boulanger held a show every quarter and grew her “stable” of players to more than a dozen.
“It seemed like a great thing to do to continue developing this as a program. I get a lot of people in my classes, possibly because it’s an easy A,” Boulanger joked. “But they get really into it. It’s a great to watch people grow in these classes.”
In order to take the program to the next level, Boulanger invited improv professionals Laura and Rick Hall to lead a musical improv workshop and perform alongside the college’s troupe this weekend. Laura Hall worked as the musical director for the television series “Whose Line is it Anyway?” — she just finished shooting the remake of the popular show, which will air this summer — while her husband performed on HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
Musical improv, like traditional improv, is all about telling a story, Boulanger said. It’s a natural, though sometimes intimidating, progression and the Halls will attempt to demystify the art this Saturday.
“It seems impossible when you watch an actor improvise a song on the spot,” Laura Hall said. “We ease people into it … A big part of the workshop is demystifying it for people. When you see it, it looks so amazing. You don’t realize you could use skills you already have.”
Everyone who participates in the workshop is able to perform at least some musical improv by the end of the session, according to Rick Hall.
“One of the nicest compliments we get is when people say your workshop is a safe environment where you’re not afraid to try new things, to fail,” he said.
For Boulanger, improvisation lets her perform. She’s usually too busy organizing and directing college shows to find time to get onstage, she said.
“It’s something I really love to do. With improv, there’s no prep. I can step up there and have a great time with it,” Boulanger said.