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We Tried It: Beginners Drop-In Improv at Bad Dog Theatre Company

It’s a Tuesday evening, and I just saw a bunch of adults have a long overdue recess. They stomped their feet and waved their arms around and expressed themselves in registers that could nary pass for indoor voices.

Let me back up for a second and explain how I got here. Bad Dog Theatre Company, Toronto’s 30 year old improv hub, invited a member of our team to try Beginners Drop-In Improv. They’re based in Bloorcourt (my neighborhood – come murder me, or say hi!) and provide a brick-and-mortar theatre space for classes, performances, and anything else the local improv community needs to thrive.

Beginners over the age of 18 are encouraged to stop by drop-in workshops that don’t require any experience. All you need is: five dollars, a sense of curiosity and openness, as well as a willingness to work with other people. The way I felt at the end of the session reminded me of that pleasant post-yoga haze. I knew that I had accomplished something within the hour and learned something new about my ability to be flexible.

Do you have previous improv experience? There’s a workshop for intermediate performers Wednesdays at 6:30 PM, as well as recurring classes for students of all ages and skill levels.

Also, making new friends as an adult can be difficult. If signing up for a matchmaking service (Yes New Friends) isn’t your thing, signing up for an improv class will put you in a room with people you’ve never met before, and the best part is that you’ve already got something to talk about! The structure of the classes can also help with creativity, communication, and self-confidence.

Improv is valuable because it grants permission to be exuberant in a way that I don’t think a lot of adults get to be in their daily lives. You get together in a performance space with other working, stress-filled adults, and for an hour, you get to exercise the same energy that children use on the playground and it’s okay. After taking one class, I’m already hungry for more, and can see how it can be used as a balm to relieve some of the tension that comes from the ambiguities of adult life. There are a lot of situations that we’re thrust into where we don’t know how to act appropriately, or what the correct course of interaction is. For those who get anxious about this sort of thing, improv can be a useful and constructive space for unpacking what we expect from one another and turning it into something concrete.

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