What is it? The Narrative Studio Series is a 32 week program (four levels each eight weeks) that is designed to train intermediate to advanced improvisers in undirected, narrative longform improvisation.
What distinguishes this program? This class & performance series goes beyond “classes that make you a better improviser”. Bad Dog has a long tradition of presenting narrative-based longform improv shows & formats (among them: Throne of Games, Dreadwood, Battleawesome Awesomestar… and the upcoming D&D Live) - and it is a priority for us to focus on developing the vocabulary and skillset key to this style of unscripted performance in a new generation of improvisers – with the additional goal of creating dynamic new work in this style that is both creatively satisfying and accessible to a broad audience.
How does this program work? Developed by Rob Norman & Colin Munch, the Narrative Studio Series progresses from a skills-based curriculum model into a guided show development and rehearsal process over the course of four levels of instruction.
NARRATIVE STUDIO I: Epic Narrative
Primary Focus: To explore basic story theory, character archetypes, and single-plot narrative structures.
Duration: 8 weeks.
- Story theory
- Blocks as obstacles
- Character archetypes
- Establishing the hero
- Role of the Mentor
- Villains & Monsters
- Primary vs. Secondary characters
- Format: The Quest
- Format: Life Game
This class is designed specifically to introduce improvisers to story theory and narrative-driven play. As opposed to diagnostic-based classes, where focus is on an individual’s skill-set, performers will learn how to use their performance to drive the overall story forward.
***IMPORTANT: STUDENTS MUST MEET SKILL REQUIREMENT TO ADVANCE FURTHER IN THIS PROGRAM. IF STUDENT STILL REQUIRES MORE TRAINING, ALTERNATIVE RECOMMENDATIONS WILL BE MADE.***
NARRATIVE STUDIO II: Epic Space, Time, & Atmosphere
Primary Focus: To add theatricality and personality to basic story concepts & discover the importance of a clearly defined, living world to story
Duration: 8 weeks
- Object Work
- Scene Painting
- Establishing & maintaining atmosphere
- Theatrical trickery
- Shot composition & editing techniques
- Stage Combat
- Physical theatre
NARRATIVE STUDIO III: Epic Styles
Primary Focus: To explore brand new, unexplored styles of improvised shows and introduce students to the process of creating their own genre parody/homage improv shows (Battleawesome Awesomestar, Dreadwood, Throne of Games).
Duration: 8 weeks.
- Explore different styles of show structure: Beatprov VS. Awesomestar style.
- Brainstorm new styles and genres
- Develop collaboration skills amongst the ensemble
- Create a unique improv vocabulary specific to the ensemble
- Workshop new improv formats
- Gain experience working in a Bad Dog-style production
- Continue to work on their individual improv training
GENERAL NOTES: During this level, the tone of the program will transform from class to workshop – where students will bring in ideas that shape what is explored in class. Students will brainstorm a series of new genres (improvised Hemingway, improvised Akira, improvised Edgar Allan Poe), and discuss their conventions. Students will compile lists of terms & colloquialisms and study them in class.
Participants will workshop a minimum 2 – 3 improv formats, to offer a broad experience working in different styles and genres. This is a preparatory level for NARRATIVE STUDIO IV: EPIC STAGE. Any student who struggles with this level may be asked to repeat this class, until ready to participate in a graduating show. At the last class, students will pitch and vote upon the new format they will develop in NARRATIVE STUDIO IV: EPIC STAGE.
NARRATIVE STUDIO IV: Epic Stage
Primary Focus: Students will create, rehearse and produce a show format of their own choosing, which will be workshopped in class and then given a four-week run at Comedy Bar, headlining at Academy Tuesday.
Duration: 8 weeks.
GENERAL NOTES: In addition to creating and workshopping an original show, students will be responsible for production tasks (supported by/in conjunction with the theatre) including:
- POSTER. Design and create a poster to promote their show.
- MARKETING. Create their own Facebook / Twitter / etc. to promote the lead-up to their show.
- PRESS RELEASE. Write their own press release to send out to publications (NOW, Grid, Torontoist, etc.).
- OPENING NIGHT PARTY. Host an opening night party to build interest in their show.
- PHOTOGRAPHER/VIDEOGRAPHER. Securing documentation throughout the run to increase interest throughout the run/create show archival materials.