published Thursday, February 6th, 2014

Improv workshop, show with top Atlanta troupe set - Feb. 9

IF YOU GO

* What: "Mission Improv-able" workshop and show.

* When: 3-5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 9 (workshop); 6-7:30 p.m. (show).

* Where: Northwest Whitfield High School theater, 1651 Tunnel Hill Varnell Road, Tunnel Hill, Ga.

* Admission: $25 (workshop, pizza dinner, show); $10 (show only), free for children under 5.

* Email: josh_ruben@whitfield.k12.ga.us.

You've laughed at improv-trained actors on TV -- "Saturday Night Live," "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" -- but improv is not just for comedians.

Indeed, says improv veteran Josh Ruben, director of fine arts at Northwest Whitfield High School, improvisation is a skill useful in many careers, from education to marketing, and for professionals from doctors to lawyers.

On Sunday, Feb. 9, the Northwest Theatre Company will host the "Mission Improv-able" comedy workshop and show, which features performers from the Atlanta improv comedy troupe Laughing Matters.

The workshop, limited to 50 people, will be from 3 to 5 p.m. It is geared, according to Ruben, to high school and college students but is open to young (ages 14-up) and old and to improv novices and veterans alike. The show for the general public, for which there is ample space in the school's 400-seat theater, is at 6 p.m.

"It's a chance for people to get together and have fun with it," he says. And while it offers "older students skills that will be marketable in the future," it has "universal implications."

Ruben, who received improv training as a college theater student, picked up additional training in the form's techniques from Chattanoogans Rex and Sherry Knowles, who now head the Professional Actor Training Program at Chattanooga State Community College, from co-founder Keith Johnstone and the Loose Moose Theatre Company in Canada, and from Suzanne Smartt, a former actor in New York City and now director of theater at Girls Preparatory School in Chattanooga.

Later, while working for Atlanta's Alliance Theatre, he toured before young audiences for 10 years as half of a two-person improv team and developed lessons and techniques for teachers and other professionals.

"We were always looking for ways to spread the gospel of how we could help people have more creative careers and lives," says Ruben.

Participants in the workshop will join members of Laughing Matters -- who do monthly performances at Atlanta's Manuel's Tavern when they're not touring -- for the family-friendly show. As is usually the case with improv, audience members also may be asked to join in the fun.

Reservations are necessary for the workshop but not for the show.

Profits from the event will be used by the Northwest Theatre Company for costumes, sets and equipment.

Contact Clint Cooper at ccooper@timesfreepress.com at 423-757-6497. Subscribe to his posts online at Facebook.com/ClintCooperCTFP.

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

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