When I came back from Chicago at the end of the summer and started frequenting the jam scene again, something was different, and I wasn’t the only one to notice a difference. As I left Stage Werx one night, other jam participants remarked how the quality of jam scenes had been improving recently.
The quality difference they were commenting on potentially had to do with the more true-to-life scenes that I was noticing, and they often involved improvisers enrolled in a new Endgames advanced study class: Connected Improv. After talking to the improvisers taking the class, who seemed to be thoroughly enjoying it, I tried to sign up. Alas, I had missed the deadline for the next round, and enrollment was now full.
There was an available spot in the round after, and I had a chance to chat with Max beforehand about it. What he described was pretty close to the style of improv in TJ & Dave’s Improvisation at the Speed of Life, and he had found a way to actually teach, drill, and instill those concepts in a classroom environment. The class delivered on this, but at the end of it, there were still moments where I felt something was amiss, I would second-guess myself, and freeze up. I asked Max for personal feedback and have since been putting his notes to work around that into practice at every opportunity I get to improvise.
Thankfully, the class itself ends in a run of shows, but I’ve also been trying out this style at jams, where other folks may not have taken the class and are adopting other playing styles. In these latter contexts, one thing that I’ve ended up doing is ignoring game moves in scenes and instead responding to those moves with what I view as honest. Sometimes, this has come at the expense of the game, so I’m not sure how my scene partner has felt, but on the other hand, I haven’t been at a loss for how to play and am less in my head than I was before.
Immersing in a style of play comes not only from practicing it, but also from watching others perform it. The students in that first Connected class formed a team called Chad and now have their own weekly show with Endgames: Wish You Were Here. I wish I were there this week for their debut, but I have a feeling I’ll be an audience regular soon enough.