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  • Taylor Bruneaux

Kismet's approach to teaching and learning improv.

Here's our philosophy:

You will never learn 'how to do' improv. No one does. You will learn new things, practice, and get comfortable. Then, something will happen and you'll start to lose your footing. Or, a new form will come up and you'll want to learn how to do that. You'll get better, then you'll get worse. You'll gain confidence, and you'll lose it again. We learn as much from this process as we do from improv classes -- probably more.

So, how do we translate this elusive value into comedy education?

Improv Fundamentals

Kismet offers one four-week introductory course called Improv Fundamentals. In this course, you'll learn the basics tenets of improv comedy. You'll establish a vocabulary that you'll share with your students and fellow performers.

Improv Fundamentals is for everyone. It is, by design, low-pressure and easy.

Improv Fundamentals will be fun for you if:

  • You are new to improv

  • You are new to performing in general

  • You're looking to get better at public speaking

  • You've had a long layoff from performing

  • You're looking for a quick refresher

  • You want to make new friends and learn what this is all about

Intermediate and advanced courses

Once you've got the basics down, we invite you to pursue the improv education that's right for you. Our experienced instructors design courses that they are passionate about. Instructors set the schedule, pace and price of these courses. This means that each course is uniquely customized for the teacher and the students.

Our intermediate courses will cover topics like:

  • Applied improv for public speaking, conflict resolution and improved business skills

  • Scenework, and how to make scenes successful

  • Shortform improv games, like our Friday Night Frenzy show

  • Longform structures, like the Harold

  • Musical improv

  • Acting and stage presence

  • Character development

Our advanced courses will cover similar topics at a higher level of difficulty. We will begin offering these in 2022.

Sketch, standup, storytelling...

We offer these classes based on interest from qualified, vetted and enthusiastic instructors.

Why no set curriculum?

For many of us, there's nothing more exciting than a checklist. You check each box and when you're done with the list, you've accomplished it all! You can sleep restfully knowing that you've done all you can do.

Most improv curricula try to replicate this. They give you the four, six, or eight classes that you need to feel like you've mastered improv. Yet, many of us know that a year of improv training doesn't mean you've mastered anything. In fact, it means you're just getting started.

Kismet will not ask students to meet the needs of an arbitrary curriculum. We will tailor our course offerings to the needs of our students. We will regularly poll our community for class interest and help teachers design offerings.

The Rhode Island improv community is hungry to learn. We've seen you jump at unique opportunities to grow and build your skills. We're excited to help you get there.

The "path"

As noted above, this is not a checklist! We want to support you all on your individual journeys to becoming the type of improviser you want to be. However, if you are looking for a little guidance, this is what we recommend.

Step 1: Introduce yourself to improv

Step 2: See a lot of improv and comedy shows

  • What type of improv excites you?

  • Who are the improvisers you'd like to emulate?

  • What is funny and fun to you?

  • Are you interested in being a performer, or are you interested in applying improv in your day-to-day life?

Step 3: Explore our intermediate course offerings

  • Take one of our offered intermediate courses that fits your interests

Step 4: Continue, grow, learn

  • Continue to take our intermediate courses as they interest you

  • Perform at our jams (coming 2022)

  • Form an independent improv team

  • Retake Improv Fundamentals at any time to refresh your skill set

  • Explore our guest workshops and advanced course offerings

Scholarships + affordability

In acknowledgement of historical exclusion in theater communities, Kismet classes and workshops are offered free of charge for BIPOC folx. Kismet covers the cost of these classes. BIPOC are welcome use the code community to activate a 100% discount off any class.


If you want to take a class but need a scholarship, financial aid, or discount code, you can email scholarships@kismetimprov.com. We will work with you to make the class affordable. Cost shouldn't and will not be a barrier for anyone interested and committed to learning.


What does this mean for teachers?

Instead of asking our teachers to confine themselves to a curriculum, we ask them to design their own courses.


This is a palpable shift for many of us long-time improvisers and teachers. Teachers no longer have to conform to a certain set of warmups, exercises and objectives. They will rely on their own knowledge and experience to design and modify their own material. They will meet the needs of their students, rather than meet the needs of an outdated curriculum.

Practically, this means a few things:

  • Our instructors must have experience teaching improv before teaching at Kismet; or they must train under an established instructor

  • Teachers own their curriculum, so they may teach their courses at Kismet or elsewhere

  • Teachers set the cost, schedule, and policies for their own courses

  • Instead of being paid out a wage, teachers will keep 75% of the revenue brought in by their course. The remaining 25% covers administrative and space-related costs. From our experiences elsewhere, this is roughly a 300% increase in what we've been paid as teachers at other comedy schools.

  • Teachers' payments will not be impacted by anyone taking the class at a discount or on scholarship.

We do not see teachers and classes as a cash cow for our theater. Essentially, we offer these classes at cost. We see working with the established teachers that we value as a privilege. It's critical that we compensate them based on their experience and knowledge. By rightsizing the pricing and value of our teachers, we hope that we can offer high-quality classes for a long time to come.

Conclusion

We are happy and lucky to offer comedy classes that we are proud of. Since joining the Rhode Island improv community, we've been deeply impressed by the tenacity of the students. You are willing to learn, humble, and enthusiastic. We're excited to be part of rebuilding comedy education in a way that honors this.

Questions? Email Taylor at taylor@kismetimprov.com

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