Fresh off my stint in Chicago for the summer, here's a guest blog I did for Greenville's online magazine Fete:
Teaching comedy improv classes is trying to get complete strangers to act like best friends, mortal enemies, and long lost lovers. The greatest part, is that if you challenge yourself in the pretend world long enough, it will affect your real life. That’s what we are all about at the Alchemy Comedy Theater here in Greenville, SC. Our name, Alchemy, means “the power or process of transforming the common into the special” and that’s we do every week in our classes and on stage. Like the science of attempting to turn metals like lead into gold, improvisation does not produce a tangible product. But like alchemy, whose practices help shape modern chemistry, the art of improvisation can have a profound impact on us off stage.
The theater started 2 years ago with four founding members, Jason Underwood, Meg Pierson, Ben Burris, and me, Harrison Brookie. Since then we’ve been performing live improv comedy shows and teaching improv classes to the public every week. After our upcoming audition this September, we will number closer to 30 regularly performing and teaching members. Our August Improv 101 sold out at 14 students. We have grown a vibrate theatrical comedy community of not just fellow performers, but a supportive and challenging company of allies.
Our shows are funny, but humor is only as good as the truth it gets at. In improvisation, we are striving for authenticity, because nothing else on stage is. It’s you and your teammates. No set. No script. No net. I spent five weeks this summer learning and performing in Chicago’s iO theater, the birthplace of long form, play-like, improv comedy. I had the pleasure of getting a workshop with the founder of the theater Charna Halpern who quoted her co-creator Del Close as saying “If we treat each other as if we are geniuses, poets and artists, we have a better chance of becoming that on stage.” If you create together, it brings you together. The great part about improvisation, is everyone, the performers and the audience, are creating together.
The Alchemy Comedy Theater performs every Friday night in the theater at Coffee Underground and have another Introduction to Improv Scene Work class starting Tuesday, September 30th.