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The Paradise Center hosts improv classes on Longboat Key

The workshops are designed to build creativity, self-confidence and, of course, a sense of humor.

Will Luera of Florida Studio Theatre had everyone pick a pose or movement to go with their name.
Will Luera of Florida Studio Theatre had everyone pick a pose or movement to go with their name.
Courtesy photo
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The Paradise Center hosted the first of its spring improv classes at May 17.

Will Luera, director of improvisation at Florida Studio Theatre, taught participants the fundamentals of his art.

The class centered around “your authentic self” and saw nine participants attend the hourlong workshop.

“It’s everything you know about yourself, what’s in your head, and what your experiences are, which are all valid in improvisation,” said Luera. “The class was so enthusiastic and they surprised themselves because at first they were a little nervous. People think improv is all about being quick, witty and funny. As you get older, you build your filters and we focus on getting out of your own way.”

Luera explained that improv is about having quick access to what is in your head first and focusing on being funny later.

“We warmed up with an exercise called ‘thumper,’ which is saying your name with an action and then being able to remember everyone else’s name and their action. It’s a call and response exercise,” said Luera. 

The class ranged from beginners to those who acted in college and amateur theater. 

“We are thrilled to have Florida Studio Theatre bringing this workshop out to Longboat Key. It's not only fun but also great for our brain health,” said Suzy Brenner, executive director of the Paradise Center. 

Luera explained that improv is much like a sport. The more one practices, the more one builds muscle memory. 

“When it’s game time, it’s different from when you were practicing, but you build that muscle memory that you’ll need later. It helps with spatial awareness, vocal inflection, and physicality.”

Improvisation requires participants to think quickly, adapt to new situations and generate spontaneous reactions. This helps with memory, focus and recall, explained Luera. 

The class ended with participants completing an exercise called “scene.”

Luera explained the exercise builds upon having a conversation with someone else focusing on “the right here and now.”

“I tried this class because a friend twisted my arm and it was more fun and easier than I thought it would be. I didn’t know I had it in me,” said Barbara Koetsier, participant. 

Amy Steinhauser, program manager at The Paradise Center, also joined the class.

“Honestly, I was terrified, but it was great! We got comfortable with one another quickly thanks to Will and laughed throughout the class,” said Steinhauser.

The next class will take place at 1 p.m. May 31. It will focus on “The Golden Rule,” explained Luera.

“It’s the ‘yes, and’ where you agree and say yes to the idea the other person gives to you and you build off of it. Improv is building off the idea of your scene partner,” said Luera.

Brenner plans to continue improv classes at the Paradise Center at least once a month. 



Sidra Wali

Sidra Wali is a staff writer for the Longboat Key Observer. She's worked as a newspaper reporter and written for several publications and organizations as a freelancer.

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