Building Confidence and Community

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Hot Garbage Comedy and the Charlotte Street Arts Centre partner for a nine-week improv workshop beginning January 29.

Matt Carter
Photo: Arianna Martinez

When you think of improv, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Comedy? Acting on stage before an audience? Your own performance anxiety? What about listening? What about working as a team? What about fun? Yes, fun!

“Learning improvisation is essentially learning how you communicate. Since there’s no script and no plan, everyone needs to constantly be listening and tuning in with everyone else all at once.”

That’s the pitch. That’s the bottom line. And that’s how Fredericton performer Jean-Michel Cliche approaches his craft.

For the past few years Cliche has been performing and teaching improv fundamentals to actors, university students, comedians and businesses interested in improving their communication and performance skills. As a founding member of Hot Garbage Players – Fredericton’s improv collective – Cliche and his fellow performers in the Hot Garbage crew understand the important role improv’s fundamentals can play our day to day lives.

To kick off a new year of activities, Hot Garbage Players will be hosting a nine week workshop aimed at sharing these fundaments with the broader community.

“This class is specifically designed to teach participants how improvisation can be used as a performance art,” said Cliche. “That being said, participants don’t need to have any past experience. We’re looking for anyone who wants to play, laugh and improve their performance skills, wherever they’re at.”

So how exactly can we all benefit from improv’s creative freedom?

When you’re that focused on how people interact, things start to get a bit uncanny,” said Cliche. “You have all kinds of micro-realizations, like, ‘Oh wow, I just totally ignored what that person added to the story. Do I do that in real life?’. In general, improvisers tend to be empathetic and thoughtful communicators, on and off stage.”

Hot Garbage Players have partnered with the Charlotte Street Arts Centre to deliver this nine week class. The Centre recently named its newly renovated performance space the Jim Myles Auditorium in honour of community leader Jim Myles. From the end of January to mid-March, the auditorium will be home to this upcoming workshop series.

“We’re very lucky to be partnered with the Charlotte Street Arts Centre for this class,” said Cliche. “Renting rehearsal space can be expensive, so we knew we needed to find some kind of partner for this long-term class. We reached out to CSAC first because they’ve always been welcoming to the performance community in Fredericton and are generally just cool, experimentative artists. They are graciously allowing us to use their auditorium for the class, as well as the group’s final performance.”

Cliche sees the timing of this workshop as a great way for emerging and established artists, as well as the improv-curious, to begin the New Year.

“We’ve seen the Fredericton performance arts community grow over the last few years,” he said. “We’re seeing a lot more standup and comedy nights. Theatre companies are practically springing out of the ground right now. We want to encourage that growth by providing professional training here in the city. There’s also a second and slightly self-serving reason, which is Hot Garbage needs more improvisers. We’re currently running two monthly shows, workshops, team building events and we have new ideas in the pipes for 2019. It means that people will be able to immediately put their skills to the test and help build upon this crazy thing we’re doing!”

More information can be found at  

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