Meeting new people and falling in love are two interactions that people experience — or hope to experience — daily. And did you know these things naturally involve elements of improv?
Single adults and others looking at expanding their friendship circles can explore the answer to this question at the Social Capital Theatre every Saturday evening.
Improv for Singles and New Friends is a two-hour group session built around the idea of playing with other adults.
Owner and artistic director of SoCap Comedy Theatre, Ralph MacLeod, leads the sessions, using a variety of techniques to create laughter.
Improv (also known as impro) is short for improvisation. It is an art form where the performers make up the theatre, usually comedy, on the spot.
The Improv for Singles and New Friends sessions have a maximum limit of 14 people, but most sessions are often between 8-12 people in size.
Each class teaches participants short, long, and narrative forms of improv that explore active listening, being positive, and putting the focus on others.
MacLeod said these are the same behaviours we use when we bond with another person.
“These things that we do when we improvise are the things that people naturally do when they’re falling in love or hanging out with their best friends,” MacLeod said.
“You get out of your head, put your focus somewhere else, you relate to people as they really are, and not the BS version everyone cultivates that we want people to believe is the real us. You actually get to become you.”
Play is important for adults, as it is thought to be one of the only times people are truly present and living in the moment.
Creating an atmosphere that is free of judgment and allows for the medium to be a place where others can meet and connect with new people is essential to each session. And MacLeod isn’t afraid to get people out of their comfort zones.
“Everyone in the class has a chance to fail — I make them fail because failure is good, but everyone is terrified of it.” MacLeod said.
“We’re all programmed to see all of the things that could go wrong, but what about all the things that could go right? Mistakes are riddled with opportunities.”
Benefits of improv
Improv forces people to be in the present moment, but unlike meditation, where one becomes present with themselves, in improv, one becomes present in the moment with another person. It’s an active form of mindfulness.
According to Forbes, improv takes courage — but not as much courage as one might imagine, especially when one realizes how much everyone around them is in the same boat.
Forbes also highlighted the importance of failure for growth, as MacLeod does in his classes: people who don’t take risks and allow for failure will continue to repeat the same old ideas, while others with new ideas pass them by.
Sessions sell out
Post-pandemic, the reception to Improv for Singles and New Friends has been successful, with latest sessions selling out.
“The pandemic has exasperated everything, but that’s why these classes are so needed and so welcome, ” MacLeod said. “People come and they fall in love with it, and they want to do more. People have made really good friends from just one two-hour session.”