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Improv + Sketch            Shows + Classes

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class details.

longform improvisation

 

Learn how to be a much healthier and happier human being, and have a blast while doing it!

 

Learning and practicing Improvisation has been scientifically proven to be greatly beneficial. The art of Improvisation teaches you how to let go of your stressed-out monkey mind and put your attention and care on others.

Improvisation shows you how to genuinely listen to those you work with, those you create with, and those you love. Every relationship in your life will grow and improve once you are actively listening and developing empathy with those around you. 

Improvisation strengthens your cognitive control which leads to greatly improved focus and decision-making skills.

 

Improvisation immerses you in the moment, the power of now, which has numerous benefits including improved self-regulation in this crazy world.

Improvisation trains you to become comfortable with the unknown, lowering your uncertainty intolerance, which is the basis of our anxiety. 

Improvisation teaches you how to embrace every part of your being, and how to confidently and fully be yourself. You are more than enough, already. Over time you'll be impressed with how much more comfortable you'll be at social gatherings. 

Improvisation opens your eyes to the incredible value of developing a "we" versus "me" mentality. Regardless of how good you are at collaborating with others, improv training will take you to new heights. 

And finally, the BIC approach to Improvisation will blow your mind when you realize how one can learn to be funnier, brighter, kinder, more supportive, and powerful. 

Functional MRIs measure blood flow in the brain, giving us a better picture of which brain areas are more and less activated. While improvising, a brain region associated with self-judgment “quiets down,” and a creative and language brain center “speaks up.” This relationship is linked with flow states and heightened creativity. 

With EEG tests scientists have shown by measuring brain activity before and after 20 minutes of improv, that the improv helped with brain wave coherence. Since trauma negatively affects coherence, they propose that improvisation could be a helpful treatment for people with complex trauma since it may help them connect better with others and help brain regions work better together.  

 

It may seem counterintuitive, but studies show that improv can reduce social anxiety, even after only 20 minutes of playing improvisation games. 

Improv is an art form that stands on its own, with its own discipline and aesthetics. We all go through life every day without a script, responding to our environment, making it up as we go along. Improvising on stage is obviously a little different -- the performers are trying to create while entertaining an audience. At a typical longform improv show, one audience suggestion is taken at the beginning, then the fun begins as the group improvises a 30-minute set where the world unfolds, characters are created, comedic themes are explored, amplified, and connected.

 

Our improv classes focus on honest, grounded scene work, where finding, heightening, and expanding the Game (or hook) of the scene are critical, as developed by Del Close and Charna Halpern at iO Chicago and the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York City and Los Angeles.  

 

Improv classes at the Bend Institute of Comedy are taught by John Breen. John expertly trains his students to be highly cooperative improvisers, with the ability to build a cohesive improv set that relentlessly escalates to a hilarious climax. He encourages his students to care for one another, to be open, decisive, energetic, and authentic. John is constantly striving to build confidence in his students through the approach of Deliberate Practice, created by psychologist Anders Ericsson. This entails rigorous skills training, mental development, honest, authoritative feedback, all the while maintaining an air of lightness, love and excitement. This is why BIC has some of the best improv classes in Oregon! 

sketch comedy writing

 

Great sketch comedy can come from many different sources - comedic ideas, character development, theme exploration, improvisation development and more. At BIC, with an emphasis on live sketch, John will show you how to go from a simple idea to a fully written sketch comedy script in six weeks. John's expertise from many years of writing, performing and directing live sketch comedy, appearing at lots of festivals, and producing many videos will guide you to becoming a confident comedy writer.

 

His extensive background in longform improv brings a lively energy, and open aspect to his creative process. John's approach includes teaching vital writing skills, tons of experimentation, and detailed comedic analyzation of some of the best sketch comedy over the past 30 years. He will push hard to bring the absolute best out of each student!   

screenwriting

 

In the BIC screenwriting class you'll learn that no script is good without a stable story structure. Whether it's 5 pages or 105 pages, your story must follow concepts handed down for ages in sources like The Hero's Journey, Aristotle's Poetics, Save the Cat, etc. John will help you tell YOUR story, but in a way that flows, and builds to a powerful, satisfying climax.

 

You'll also learn how to develop the absolute best character to drive your story, and how to make all of your characters believable and interesting. By the end of the six-week series, you'll have your major characters fleshed out, your set-up laid out, and your rough outline completed!  

Class policies

Classes are non-refundable. Improv classes are limited to 20 students. Other classes limit size will vary. We prefer not to allow more than two absences per series. You must be 18 years of age or older to sign up for this course. Bend Institute of Comedy reserves the right to accept or deny any individual's application, and to postpone or cancel class for any reason.

covid

We recommend everyone who takes classes with us be vaccinated, but we do not require a vaccination card. Masks are not required, but if wearing one makes you more comfortable feel free to do so. If the day before a class you think your health might be compromised, or you are feeling ill, please stay home and take care of yourself. Thank you! 

ACTING, SCENE STUDY

& ENSEMBLE ACTING WORKSHOP 

When you study acting at the Bend Institute of Comedy, you'll be working on both dramatic and comedic scenes. Writer-director John Breen will teach you how to dissolve the ego - the greatest obstacle to exceptional acting - and how to get out of your head and ignite a powerful connection between you and your scene partner or ensemble. There is a beautiful, dynamic YOU inside that is unique and capable of raw, energetic storytelling. Typical acting "techniques" using objectives, obstacles, emotional prep, actions, scene analysis, etc., can often get in the way of your best work. 

 

From his twenty-five years of experience as an actor, director, and instructor, Breen knows that with an energized body and an open, fluid state of imagination, you can elevate your listening to generate the thoughts and feelings necessary for each and every moment. Whether you are a dramatic stage actor, a comedic performer, or a film/TV actor, the connection to your scene mates is crucial.

 

The Ensemble Acting Workshop for adults presents John's skillful approach to creating elevated performances, including lots of movement to get the subtle energies in your body to flow, dissolution of the ego, visualizations, enhanced focus to get you listening, improvisation, tapping into the depths of imagination and creativity, and expert execution of Anne Bogart's Viewpoints to build synergy.

 

Our goal is for each student in our acting classes to walk away with more meaningful and exciting experiences, ultimately leading to greater confidence! 

PRIVATE ACTING LESSONS

& AUDITION PREP 

A more concentrated and individual approach to acting training can really boost your momentum and build your confidence more expediently. Also, if you have an audition coming up, either for stage or camera, John can help you hone in on making every second count in the room, by showcasing your strengths and finding a fresh take on the character. 

Team Brilliance
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tEAM BRILLIANCE

corporate TRAINING

Why have a TEAM BRILLIANCE training at your business? Intolerance of uncertainty has been implicated in psychological issues like depression and anxiety, arguably, the two leading reasons why people are uncreative and unproductive at home and at work. New studies show that improv is a very important social/emotional tool. Positive effects come from improv's demands to collaborate, be in the moment, be playful and imaginative, and tolerate uncertainty. By building confidence, improv will improve everyone's social skills.

 

When a company introduces the Improv Mindset into the fabric of its environment, employees start breaking out of their shells, they start really communicating, they learn to roll with the punches better, and gain new skills that enable them to attack a project head on even when it is difficult. When a human being opens up and starts trusting themselves, they worry less about making mistakes or being judged, and make the kind significant contributions to the organization that make a real difference. Not to mention how much communication improves when all of these skills are enhanced. 

 

Besides using Theater Improvisation, Team Brilliance also incorporates into our trainings Neuro Science, Peak Sports Psychology, Thoughts As Energy, Flow State, Humor, and Humility.   

about.

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Classes at the Bend Institute of Comedy are taught by John Breen. His track record speaks for itself. Breen has been teaching and performing for over 25 years. His background is full of film/TV/Stage credits, and comedy festival appearances. Below is a bullet point list of fun stuff. Enjoy these great bullet points!

  • Film:

    • Wendy and Lucy, Untraceable, Something Wicked, The Auteur

  • TV:

    • Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Portlandia, Leverage, Upright Citizens Brigade

  • Stage:

    • Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre - New York City, Los Angeles

    • Del Close Marathon - New York City

    • Comedysportz - Portland

    • Vancouver Comedy Festival

    • San Francisco Sketchfest

    • The Liberators & Bang + Burn - Portland

  • Training:

    • Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre - New York City

    • T. Schreiber Studio - New York City

    • Comedysportz - Portland

    • Margie Haber Studio - Los Angeles

    • Anthony Meindl's Actor Workshop - Los Angeles

    • The Brody Theater - Portland

    • Annoyance Theatre - Chicago

    • Loose Moose Theatre - Alberta

photo by bmacstudio.com

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LONGFORM IMPROV COMEDY LINEAGE

 

Del Close and Charna Halpern created an improv comedy dynasty in Chicago. Del become an improv guru, training many of our most notable comedic actors: Dan Akroyd, John Belushi, Matt Besser, John Candy, Stephen Colbert, Rachel Dratch, Chris Farley, Jon Favreau,

Tina Fey, Adam McKay, Bill Murray, Mike Myers,

Bob Odenkirk, Amy Poehler, Gilda Radner, Ian Roberts, Amy Sedaris, Jason Sudeikis,

Vince Vaugh, Matt Walsh.

Soon after the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre was opened in New York City by Besser, Poehler, Roberts and Walsh, it was clear they were building their own comedy empire, producing a new wave of comedy stars:

John Ross Bowie, Kurt Braunohler, Rob Corddry, Andy Daly, Jon Daly, Ilana Glazer,

Donald Glover, Ed Helms, Brian Huskey, Abbi Jacobson, Ellie Kemper, Nick Kroll,

Jason Mantzoukas, Kate McKinnon, Seth Morris, Ego Nwodim, Jordan Peele,

Aubrey Plaza, Rob Riggle, Ben Schwartz, Zach Woods.

John Breen's improv expertise comes from decades of hard work, training with some of the country's best teachers and directors for over two decades, including 3 years under the tutelage of Del Close proteges and founders of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre,

Matt Besser, Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts, Matt Walsh and Armando Diaz.

Other prominent students of Del Close, Armando Diaz and Ali Farahnakian, opened their own successful comedy theaters in New York City -- The People's Improv Theater and Magnet Theater.

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