Learn the Art of Comedy With WCPA
Anyone who’s ever given a wedding toast knows that humor is a powerful tool that connects communities. They also know that deafening sound of crickets when they accidentally rush through that previously well timed punch line, or leave out that important piece of setup information they practiced over and over in the mirror. Comedy plays a part not just in theater, but in many ways, and in any human’s life.
In June and July this summer, two local educators and thespians are looking to teach the tools of the comedic trade to area youth at the Wichita Center for Performing Arts located on E. Central. The two classes, Intro to Comedy (June 5-22) and The Art of Improv (July 10-August 2nd) are aimed at middle school aged children and up.
Understanding Comedic Performance
“There’s a science behind comedy. Sometimes if you slow a scene down, all of a sudden, it isn’t funny anymore. Studying and understanding how humor occurs, and what makes everyday life funny, makes it easier to perform,” says Cameron Carlson, a career educator, founder of Carlson Acting & Performance Services (CAPS), and instructor of the Intro to Comedy class offered in June. “If you look back at some of the people who really created modern comedy, the Groucho Marxes, some of their stuff doesn’t stand the test of time, but some of it does. It’s important to know what and why, and how to adapt it to today.”
Cameron says participants in this class will learn the basics of comedic timing, sketch comedy, writing comedic scripts, and developing comedic characters. At the end of the class, there should be about 3 performance pieces, depending a bit on the students.
Assisting Cameron through the course will be his team of educators, CAPS, who help with lesson planning, course delivery, and performance-based assessment. Cameron says what makes CAPS’ approach beneficial to kids is that they get a very personalized report of what to work towards. “It’s like an individualized report card. For example, one of the things we teach is how to have eye contact in a scene. A student may need to work on it for performance reasons, but that’s also a skill to have for when they walk into their first job interview.” He also adds the reports help parents understand what is being learned, “the applied approach really makes it more obvious how individuals are improving, especially in comedy.”
- June 5 to June 22
- Tuesday through Friday
- 3:00-4:30 PM
- Middle School and up
- Instructor: Cameron Carlson and CAPS
Seizing the Moment
“I believe improv could save the world,” says Bill Coleman, who received his improv training at the Second City Training Center and Second City Conservatory in Chicago, and is an instructor at Northfield School of the Liberal Arts, “the principles employed--active listening, focusing on making your partner great, and working to the top of your intelligence: these are ways to create not only great scenes, but great communities.”
Bill’s class, “Yes And: The Art of Improvisation” will teach students the principles of the world-famous Second City and Upright Citizens Brigade improv groups, and allow students to explore improv as performance art with a special emphasis on scene-work and long-form. In just over three weeks, students will learn to be in the moment, build off of their teammates, and prepare for a long-form performance. It’s a chance to learn something completely different than your typical scripted play or musical.
“Teaching and performing improv comedy is inherently joyful: a group of people are coming together, athletically listening to one another, in the belief that everything that's said is a gift. There are no mistakes in improvisation, only gifts, threads to be woven artfully into the fabric of the scene. There are no mistakes that care, attention, imagination, and creativity can't rehabilitate,” says Bill, “I hope we discover that the improv principle of "yes and" can create moments of shared and unforeseen joy that remind us that life's a lucky thing”
- July 10-August 2
- Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday
- Middle School and up
- Instructor: Bill Coleman
Visit the WCPA’s website to learn more and sign up for courses today!