"Getting in on the act"
by Jim Kelly for remotegoat on 24/02/09

The day after I completed Remy Bertrand's weekend Imprology course I somehow managed to contract acute bronchitis and as a result have spent the last two weeks lying beneath three duvets snivelling through Kleenex and periodically coughing up globules of phlegm of much the same colour and consistency as Marmite. I should hastily note this wasn't the fault of the acting class (Richmond swimming pool are almost certainly to blame) but I offer it as my rather lame excuse and apology for the tardiness of this review.

Although I've reviewed plays for a few years, and even written a couple of my own, I've never acted in one. Rather I've inherited far too many prejudices not to view actors and acting without an almost insurmountable quotient of suspicion and envy. Whenever I see play I am amazed afresh by why anyone would want to act (apart, obviously, for the glamour and the praise and the parties). But acting in and of itself? How can anyone enjoy it? Isn't it degrading and frustrating and, well, doesn't it all just feel a bit pointless? And having explained thus my reservations to my only acting friend I was advised that, before I am allowed to review another play, I should make some effort to find out - well in her words - 'the truth about acting'.

And so I signed up for Imprology, the beginners guide to improvisation; a class that would not only allow me to take my first tottering baby steps into the world of theatre, but improve me as a person, boosting my confidence, enhancing my mental agility and listening skills. The billing made me sceptical. By the end of the weekend, however, I'd been won round.

Classes of this kind are heavily reliant on the personality of the tutor and it's here that this course wins its stars. Remy Bertrand is not simply a savant of improvisational acting, an unashamed advocate of the belief that the best acting is reacting and a polymath of drama games but an extremely warm, encouraging and relaxed figure. The anxiety (the lets-face-it-for-most-of-us crippling fear of humiliation) is the biggest hurdle most beginners face, and yet within a couple of hours I was holding hands with complete strangers and merrily chatting Sims style gobbledygook with unreserved, expansive gestures. And it was fun.

So fun in fact I've arranged to go back again and that's highest recommendation I can offer.

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