An accomplished fencer and performer, Laura Marshall delights in teaching the comical art of improvisational (improv) theatre.
"Performance art uses our own selves as the medium of that expression," said Marshall. "We have no tools to master, as in an instrument, or a medium to control, as in clay, only the mind, body and soul."
Simply described, improv theatre is the art of making it up. "It incorporates small scenes or plays which contain dialogue, settings and characters that are created as the play unfolds," added Marshall. "Suggestions for setting, character, plot and even dialogue are usually made by the audience. The actors have no script, character study, blocking or rehearsal on which to base a scene. Instead, key rules of improv are applied to create something from nothing."
With its raw spontaneity, the outcome is hilarious. It is also a lot of fun to perform.
Aside from honing their acting skills, students receive many benefits from improv training. It helps to improve verbal expression, enhance listening skills, build body awareness, expand interpersonal intelligence and boost self-confidence. By playing theater games and learning to take risks in a safe environment, improv students develop the ability to tell stories collaboratively and work in the moment.
"It is about saying yes, yes, yes to your ideas and the ideas of others," said Marshall. "The antithesis of censorship, it is about accepting and being positive."
Since moving to the Sunshine Coast in 1998, Marshall has worked with Caitlyn Hicks co-directing youth improv groups, The Usual Suspects and Decent Criminals. She has worked with the regional district in youth drama programs and the Fencing for Beginners program. Currently, Marshall is teaching French at Elphinstone Secondary.
Marshall will host an improv workshop at the Sechelt Family Arts Festival on July 31. Great for all ages, this one-hour workshop will explore the basics of improv through movement, voice, thought and expression. For additional information, visit the festival website at www.district.sechelt.bc.ca.