KPU Grad Offers Kwantlen Improv Workshops

Improv sessions free for KPU students

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Improv instructor Daniel Chai leads students David Camparm and Rhejis Wicks in an exercise at Kwantlen Improv’s first session on Sept. 19, 2016. (Joseph Keller)

KPU students looking to break up the monday evening monotony have something new to look forward to. On Sept. 19 the first of many Kwantlen Improv sessions was hosted by local performer and former KPU student Daniel Chai. The sessions take place every Mondays in Cedar 2005 at 5 pm and are free for KPU students, $5 for alumni, and $10 for the general public.

“Improv allows me to experience and enjoy the extroverted side of myself,” says Chai.

Chai has been doing improv on and off since high school. For the past several years the Surrey native and graduate of KPU’s bachelor of journalism program has been doing performing around Metro-Vancouver with his locally well known troupe The Fictionals.

“I think in general many people—we go to work, we’re on public transit, we’re at the store—and a lot of times we’re kind of in our own bubbles surrounded by many people, but we don’t get a chance to break out of that bubble and interact with each other,” says Chai. “Doing improve you get to interact with your scene partner, with the audience, and actually get to have fun.”

For the unfamiliar, improv is a form of theater where participants create plot, characters, dialogue and—most importantly—comedy, in the heat of the moment with no preparation.

The weekly workshops begin with basic warm up games to get the mental and physical juices flowing and work into classic improv games, many of which have been featured on the classic improv show Whose Line is it Anyway. Each workshop will also explore a different improve theme.

Chai says the two most basic concepts to know going into improve are referred to as “yes and…” and “Commitment.” “Yes and…” is the idea of always accepting and building on your scenemate’s ideas. In other words, there’s no bad ideas. “Commitment” refers to the idea of always being present and connected to the scene.

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Local performer and KPU alumnus Daniel Chai poses on Sept. 19, 2016. Chai hosts improv sessions every Monday in Cedar 2005 at 5 p.m. and are free for KPU students, $5 for alumni, and $10 for the general public. (Joseph Keller)

“I find that the more fun that myself and the players are having on stage, the more fun the audience is having, and to me that is the most important thing,” says Chai. “Take care of the audience and the audience will take care of you.”

According to Chai, many of the skills that participants will learn at Kwantlen Improv will translate to everyday life. Things like interpersonal skills, quick thinking, and idea generation all play heavily into the craft and are useful both on and off the stage.

In addition to the two holy commandments, there are several ground rules to Kwantlen Improv as pointed out by Chai. First is to keep it fun by not judging yourself and trying to avoid getting self conscious. Second rule is to be aware of other participants’ personal space and boundaries. Thirdly, keep the content light by avoiding controversial or heavy topics.

“Political discourse is of course super important, especially here at Kwantlen, but for the sake of this workshop we’re just here to have fun,” says Chai.

Turnout was admittedly small for the debut workshop, but Chai is confident that word will spread fast. Despite the small group, Chai provided an entertaining and high energy experience.

“Whether you’ve done years of theater or if you’ve never even picked up a microphone, it’s a fun safe space where there’s no judgement,” says Chai. “Say yes to this this brand new opportunity and you just might surprise yourself. It just might open up some new doors for you.”

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