Where should you train?

Published by ShawnKinley on

a martial arts instructor bowing to a student


Student Post



Where should you train?

Which improvisation system should you choose?

Keith Johnstone’s style? If you choose Keith Johnstone’s, what is the best institution? Should you go to Loose Moose? Or go to a theatre where that’s one of many seeds like DAT or BATS?

Or should you head to America? Train at the improvOlympic? The Annoyance? UCB? Second City (what location!?)?

Or, is it better to skip the improv schools completely? Become a real actor and train in Meissner? Get a BFA? Go to the Moscow Art Theatre?

Or study physical theatre, like Delsarte or Lecoque or Gaulier?

I really wanted to learn a martial art when I was a kid. I grew up in Vermilion, a town of about four thousand people, two hundred km away from the nearest city of a million people, Edmonton.*1 

Not a lot of Kung Fu masters hiding in the bushes in Vermilion. But, surprisingly, there were several Tae Kwon Do masters. I had the choice of UTI Tae Kwon Do or WTF Tae Kwon Do *2.

 Which system is better? And how am I to know?
I did a week at the WTF teacher’s dojang, and on the last day he ran up a wall, kicked off the wall into a backflip, and then broke a board on the way down. I was sold. WTF all the way.

A lot of training institutions use their alumni to advertise. ‘So-and-so is at NBC now and he studied here. This person had a TV show on this network. This other person went to Broadway.’ 

Mick Napier had a great blog post where he pointed out that a school advertising their alumni is backwards. If Bill Hader leaves his life in Oklahoma behind to become a Principal Assistant in LA, takes some classes at Second City, and gets on SNL, it says more about Bill Hader than Second City.

So, given all this, where should you train? I think this is the wrong question. 

The right question is who should you train with? And the answer is easy: whoever can run up walls. What performances have you seen where the performers had you on the edge of your seat? Which teachers blew your mind during workshops? Who do you want to be on stage with?

It is really important that, in answering this question, you do not narrow your field of vision. If you are in a position to set up workshops, set them up with whoever interests you: clowns, dancers, scientists, performers and thinkers of every stripe.

Who do you want to work with, and what do you have to do to create the opportunity?

*Fun fact: Edmonton is the coldest city of a million people outside of Siberia. Think ‘little Omsk on the Prairies’ but more diverse and with better food.

*2- I am not making up those acronyms. UTI is Unified Tae Kwon Do International and WTF is World Tae Kwon Do Federation. WTF TKD is what competitors train for in the Olympics. UTI is much smaller and more embarrassing

Categories: Paul


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *