This has been a pretty good year for me, creatively. But much like with The 25th Annual Spelling Bee, all good things must come to an end. My latest positive venture is Julie Brister’s Advanced Monoscene class through UCB.
I’ve taken a lot of classes at UCB over the last two and a half years (thousands of dollars worth). I’ve never regretted any of them – though that musical improv class was emotionally scarring – but I have to admit that the quality of student is pretty variable. Even in an advanced study class, you’re likely to run across one or two people whose presence in the class is just baffling.
I have no qualms about saying this because I was one of those people 9 months ago. I took a Eugene Cordero advanced class and felt completely outclassed. But I went back to the lower levels after that, worked on my basic skills, and now I’m in a fairly confident place with my improv.
So when a monoscene class popped up, I jumped at the chance to sign up. Monoscenes, for the uninitiated, are a form in which your entire improv set consists of only one scene, with actors playing mostly the same characters throughout. It is an exercise in patience and thoughtfulness, and it is one of my favorite things to watch.
The great thing about the class? Well, besides Julie’s teaching, it’s the fact that everyone who was in the class is funny. Really funny. These are strong improvisers. People I can trust to take care of me onstage, which is not always the case.
The last eight weeks were a whirlwind of monoscenes that I enjoyed watching as much as I enjoyed participating in. But alas, Julie Brister’s Advanced Class has reached its expiration date. We had our graduation show this evening, and it was as good as the classes that preceded it. And then it was over. All that remained were drinks at Birds.
There’s talk of forming a massive performance group out of this experience. I would love that. I really would. But at times these insistences reek of high school senior syndrome. You know, when you hang out with your buds the summer after graduation and talk about how you’re going to be friends forever. Doesn’t really pan out (I only talk to one of those guys these days). I hope I’m wrong though. I like these people (which is rare for me). And Julie Brister’s Advaned Class deserves to live on. In some form. Maybe this is the end of a class, but hopefully it’s the beginning of something better.