Saturday, August 31, 2013

Improv Workshop for NIGHTMARE ON 13th!

Today I am teaching a workshop for Nightmare on 13th! This is seriously the best haunted house I've ever been involved with. This is because of 2 things. 1, the people there really care about you. Once you're in, you're part of a wonderful group of abnormal people, who come together to create something awesome. 2, the place. The creativity abounds here, and is what has kept me coming back. Seeing the new ideas and getting to be new and different characters and just having an outlet for all the dark creativity that flows through sometimes!

Here is part of the improv workshop. It's not everything, can't give away trade secrets! But it's some important stuff that anyone can and should know, especially if you're into acting or improv or haunted houses and especially all three! Hope you enjoy!


One of the best parts of the production that really stands out from the competition is when the public talks to our characters and our characters respond back and have a conversation with the customers as their character. In doing this, the customers feel like they are completely immersed in a different world and less like they are just in some haunted house. It makes you much more believable as a character and can amplify an audience's fears that you will actually do what you say you will. 

Small Exercise
-One of the first things you need to do before you can improv decently is shed your shell of shyness. Don’t ever be afraid to shake off that shell and show people your inner craziness! Nobody who works here cares how strange you are, in fact, the crazier you are the more we love you! We are all strange and weird here, which is why we all want to work at a haunted house. So be crazy! Run around and let it out! Seriously, go for it.

Something I’ve noticed a lot as I’ve been an actor is that people really don’t care what comes out of your mouth, as long as it’s something. Get your brain out of the way. You know how your mom says to think before you act? Well, improv is about placing yourself in the situation, as the character, and then just going nuts! Absolutely nuts. Don’t think, just act! What does your character say? Feel? Express? Why are they there? 

-Once you’ve shaken off the shyness, take a good long look at your character. Think about it as much as you can. Part of improv is making things up on the fly, but just as important is to do all the background preparation you can. The 5W’s help with your dialogue. (Yes, I realize the W in How is at the end, get over it.)

Who: Who are you? What’s your name? What’s your background story?

What: What are you? Are you a person? Demon? Adult? Kid? What is going on around you?
Where: Where are you? This includes location and even time frame, like most vampires are in the 18th century, that sort of thing.
Why: Why are you here? Is this your house? Why did you end up in this situation? 
How: How do you act? How do you walk, talk, what do you sound like?
Last is Motive. What do you want and how are you going to get it?

Always continue to ask yourself questions about your character and be creative with it. Never stop developing your character. Use your room, props, costume, makeup, everything you have to inform you about the character and then embellish it with movie lines or your imagination or other sources. Maybe a customer will ask you a question you've never thought of before and it’ll create a whole new side to your character.
If you can’t do anything else, figure out who the heck you are and why you’re there. You want to be able to answer someone when they ask, "Why are you stuck in a maze? Why is half your face melted off? Why are vines growing out of your skin?" Answer that and you’ll be golden.

The key to improv that anyone anywhere will tell you is Yes, AND. That means to take what someone gives you, whether it’s a stupid comment or whether they’re playing back to you, and running with it. You’ll get a lot of Junior high kids saying to you, “You look stupid.” Now the last thing you want to to is stop acting and say, “No I don’t!” Be your character. If you’re a clown then use it that way. Run after them singing, ‘stupid is as stupid does and I’m going to cut out your brains to make me smarter!! Bwahahaha!’ If you’re a gun shop owner, run with it that way. “Stupid? You call me stupid! I've got a gun here that says you’re ten times stupider than me for coming in here, I’m gonna show you!” and really go after em. If you’re a zombie or a monster, that’s even easier, (Turn, fix them with your good eye, and really harass the living daylights out of them)

That's it for now! Hopefully see you at the workshop, and if not, maybe next year! Peace!


  1. Also, break a leg! Good theater advice. But not literally . . . unless you're Ryan.