Members of the Easton improvisation troupe will take the stage at the Avalon Foundation’s Stoltz Pavilion on Friday, July 23 at 8:00 pm. The Talbot County Improv Show will feature music by local musician Dan Van Skiver and include members of the Reflex Improv Annapolis group.
The Easton improvisers who will be performing on July 23 include Nancy Andrew, Val Cavalheri, Heather Hall, Jeremy Hillyard, Linda Mastro, and Howard Townsend. The audience becomes a part of the show by offering a word or location suggestions that spark ideas for games and scenes made up on the spot. The show is unscripted and everything that happens is spontaneous.
Photo: Shown practicing the freeze frame game “Pictures from our vacation” are (left to right), back row, Nancy Andrew, Jeremy Hillyard, Dan Brown, and Howard Townsend; front row, Heather Hall and Linda Mastro. Photo credit: Val Cavalheri.
In 2018 Nancy Andrew of Easton took her first improv class in Annapolis with master teacher Dan Brown, owner of Reflex Improv. “Dan is a great teacher! He encourages us to have fun while we learn,” Andrews says. “He reminds us that we can’t do it wrong.”
Andrews adds, “Improv has helped me be more creative, develop my listening skills, and be more fully present. I have made friends with people I may never have met by having fun with them in improv class.”
Brown, who is based in Virginia, agreed to offer an improv class in Easton when Andrew invited several friends to try it out. The Easton class has been growing and going strong since 2019. The group even played during the pandemic, when Brown hosted groups on Zoom.
“Some people tell me that they can’t do improv because they’re not funny,” Brown says. “You don’t need to be a natural comedian to learn how to do improv. Once you learn the fundamentals the fun will follow,”
The fundamentals of improv include the concept of “Yes – and,” which encourages everyone in a scene to listen to one another and find agreement. Two other improv fundamentals – “I’ve got your back” and making each other look good – encourage team work. “When everyone follows the process, funny happens.” Brown says.
Brown, who teaches in Virginia, Annapolis and Easton, caught the improv bug while in college, performing in the school’s short-form and sketch program, acting in school and community plays, as well as writing, directing, and starring in many comedy short films. After moving to the Washington, DC area, he took a free workshop at Washington Improv Theater and fell in love with the joy and freedom of long-form improv. His approach to teaching is positive, encouraging, joyful, fast-paced, and, most of all, fun.
Linda Mastro of Easton was one of the first Eastern Shore improv students. She remembers, “When Nancy invited me to an improv class I was nervous that I wouldn’t get it ‘right’ or be funny or smart enough to follow along. My nervousness left within the first five minutes because Dan Brown is a master at making newcomers feel welcome. My weekly improv class is often the only time when I can just have fun!”
Jeremy Hillyard, another Easton improv regular, says, “I truly enjoyed meeting and connecting with a group of complete strangers through laughter, something that just makes life better. I also noticed that improv has made me a quicker thinker and a better listener and communicator. As a high school teacher, I have been able to incorporate a variety of philosophies and games from improv class into my Spanish classroom.”
The Avalon Foundation’s Stoltz Pavilion is located under a tent at 218 N. Washington Street in Easton. Tickets for the Talbot County Improv Show are $40 for two, $80 for four. In the event of inclement weather the show will be moved to the Historic Avalon Theatre at 40 E. Dover Street. To purchase tickets for the July 23 improv show, visit tickets.avalontheatre.com.
Learn more about Dan Brown and Reflex Improv at www.refleximprov.com