Madison Improv

Scene from CTM's A Christmas Carol
Scene from CTM’s A Christmas Carol

How do I love you, Madison? Let me count the ways…

Okay, sorry for the dramatic introduction to today’s post, but I wanted to share yet another thing we love about Madison – the arts culture you find in this great city.  Since we have three kids, we get to explore what Madison has to offer both as an audience and as behind-the-scenes participants, since our kids have varied interests that we try to support through classes, workshops and other learning opportunities.

One thing I feel especially fortunate to have experienced is our son Luke’s participation in Children’s Theater of Madison’s Improvisation workshops.  He is currently in his third session, and he loves it.  There’s never a time he doesn’t want to go.

The workshop space is downtown on State Street, so Luke and I usually walk or bike over together, a pleasant trip either way from The Livingston Inn.  In many respects, State Street is the heart of Madison.  As many of you know, it’s the stretch of road between UW and the State Capitol, and for the most part, it’s closed to motor traffic. There’s a special energy to State Street, with its active social and student life, out-of-town visitors, eclectic boutiques, coffee shops, restaurants and stores, all anchored by the business of government, education and the arts.  I know I will look back at the time Luke and I spent getting to and from his classes with fondness, because, if you live in Madison, State Street is often one of those places you mean to get to more than you actually do.  Truly, being there at least once a week is a nice change.

As for the improv classes themselves, I do enjoy watching them, though now that Luke is settled, he prefers I leave him to it and get coffee next door.  When I did watch them, earlier in Luke’s improv career, I remember being impressed by how well the kids were able to think on their feet, and how quickly they could adapt to changes in the concepts.  Basically, in an improv class, students are asked to create scenes and interact with each other within given parameters — so for instance, kids may be asked to create a retail store scene where they have to buy a particular product, and then act out different themes for that scene: drama, horror, Western, etc.  It was really fun to watch, and the teacher at CTM is great.  A lot of energy, and yet a huge dose of patience to let them figure things out for themselves, giving them guidance without telling them what to do – a vital element to successful improv.

Luke and his Improv teacher, posing as Tiny Team and Scrooge
Luke and his Improv teacher, posing as Tiny Team and Scrooge

If you live in Madison, I’d highly recommend the CTM studio classes, and I love their catch phrase: “Theater skills are life skills!”

Our family also highly recommends CTM’s annual production of A Christmas Carol.  This year the role of Scrooge is played to perfection by American Players Theater’s renowned JamesRidge.  We go every year; it’s a family holiday tradition.  But the years Ridge plays Scrooge are the best ones, so try to catch it this year if you can!

So, for this holiday, be sure to get down to State Street, enjoy the energy of downtown, support local vendors, and if possible, see a holiday show – A Christmas Carol if you can.  Whatever you do, I’m sure you’ll love it!

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