Laughtrack Theater Company “workshop intensives” breakdown – Jennifer Shepard

    Stick To Your *&!% – Saturday March 20th
    by Jennifer Shepard

Many improvisers toss out and discard their first several initiations believing that the best is yet to be discovered or that the first idea can’t possibly be the best idea and in
doing so they give up their power.
Learn how to really listen to yourself and your scene partner in the first few moments of any scene. Learn how to declare and how to stick to that. Don’t throw you first
impulses, words, physical impulses away instead capitalize on them and let the scene grow from there.


JENNIFER SHEPARD is an actress and improviser with 24 years of experience. After graduating from the University of Iowa, she moved to Chicago to study improvisation. During her time in Chicago, she studied at iO, The Annoyance and the Playground theater. She worked and toured with the Chicago Comedy Theater performing at corporations and colleges through out the United States. After working in Chicago for a decade, Jennifer and her husband, Larrance, decided to open their own theater in Bar Harbor, ME called ImprovAcadia. They will open for their seventh season this coming May. She is currently working for The Second City Theatricals on a cruise ship in Hawaii. Jennifer has taught improvisation for the last eight years. Most recently she was asked for the third year to be a Visiting Adjunct Professor at the College of the Atlantic. She’s also taught for the Beth C. Wright Cancer Center, The Sea Coast Mission, the Town of Orono and by the Summer Festival of the Arts on Mount Desert Island.

Notes for posterity:
Jennifer’s class was very complementary to Deanna’s. In general, I have to say that this workshop series, as a whole, was well planned and thought out. The group of instructors really did a good job of tying their workshops together, so what we had learned in one would translate well to another. Jennifer taught very well, pushed us to stretch beyond our comfort zones, and was able to offer to us some advice on how we could better ourselves as performers. We did scene exercises that involved having an idea and figuring out how it would work with what we had set-up versus with what we think we should be doing. Being present was the number one priority in these exercises. We started with two person scenes and the other improvisers not on stage would offer us options of characters they don’t normally see us play. At the end of the class we did a series of two and three-person scenes that involved little slips of paper littered on stage with either, lines of dialogue or stage directions. These scenes were more free-form but involved trying to incorporate the things we had done in class, up to that point.

New Exercise highlight:
The first exercise we did involved our scene partner saying a line to us, we would respond with a line that we repeated three times (once to them, once to ourselves as the character, and a third time back to our scene partner). It was a little stilted because it felt abnormal but it gave us a lot of processing time. The object of the exercise was to say something, internalize it, and then make the reaction bigger through the delivery of the final line. This helped a lot because it forced you to slow down and feel something about what you were saying versus just saying it because it came to you.

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