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Box Performance Space offers summer improv classes

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Improv comedy doesn’t take as much thinking out of the box as some may think. That’s something that instructors at The Box Performance Space Downtown plan to teach students at their summer improv classes, which will start on May 7.

Kristin Berg, show producer at The Box, is also in charge of registration for the classes. She said that The Box has been conducting classes for aspiring improv artists for a few years, and that they have evolved from workshops to more formal courses meant to graduate its students from beginner levels to more advanced classes.

One of the things The Box emphasizes, which may seem to contradict the art of improv comedy as a whole, is that it’s OK if you’re not naturally funny. Honesty with character is a more important attribute; the laughs will eventually come with it.

“It’s all about living in the truth of a scene,” Berg said. “It’s about being honest in your scene work, and that’s where the comedy comes from. Because life is naturally funny.”

Classes at The Box – which can help students learn skills about talking in front of any audience, and not just an improv show – emphasize going with your gut. In other words, if you think of something, commit to it.

“Some people get on stage that they think of something, and they decide they don’t want to go with it because it might be too much or they’re worried about people will think of what they’re saying or doing, but usually that’s the right answer,” Berg said. “Your first instinct is usually the right thing to do.”

Five levels of classes are being offered, with a cap of 15 students for each. Beginners start in Basic I, which goes over the foundations of improv, to character development and in-depth interaction in the intermediate courses. There is a $150 fee for each of the classes, which meet once a week for three hours over six weeks, and participants must be at least 18.

While The Box has been open for about a decade, Berg said she’s hopeful that the improv scene in Albuquerque grows into its own, much like the area is renowned for its culture, music, art and, more recently, craft beer. “A lot of other cities have multiple improv theaters, but I think we’ll eventually get to a point where there’s other in town, with other schools of thought,” she said, referring to the variety of philosophies when it comes to improv.

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