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American improvisation actor leads workshop at LAU

[photo]
Theater students toss around a ball as part of an improvisation workshop exercise led by American comedian Tim Orr.

March 1, 2010—

American comedian Tim Orr offered theater students a four-hour improvisation workshop to hone the young actors’ theater skills, on February 22 at LAU Beirut.

The training helped around 25 students who attended to learn tools and techniques to clear their minds and be able to react impulsively during improvised performances, which force actors to think on their feet.

“When you’re in theater, you have to be patient,” says second-year communication arts major Nour Abu Hamdan, who attended the workshop. “Four hours honestly wasn’t enough, especially for improvisation, because it takes a long time to train your body and mind.”

Abu Hamdan has performed in several student productions at LAU but has never attempted improvisation, which until the workshop has not occurred to her as a possibility.

“Before I took this workshop, I thought I’d never do improv — I didn’t think I was suited for it,” Abu Hamdan says. “But what I learned is that it just needs training, just to get into that improv state of mind.”

Orr has been improvising for over 20 years with several San Francisco-based groups. He has taught and performed improvisation at the American Conservatory Theatre, BATS Improv Stanford University, and many other U.S. and international venues.

The event was sponsored by LAU’s Department of Communication Arts after local theater actor Raffi Feghali, who frequently performs in LAU student and major productions, notified the department that Orr would be in town and offered to coordinate the workshop.

Feghali originally invited Orr to Lebanon to help launch Live Lactic Culture (LLC, or Laban in Arabic), an organization aimed at building a community of improvisation actors in Lebanon.

“I met Tim at an improv festival in Amsterdam in 2009 and it struck me that when we launch [LLC], we have to bring him [to Lebanon],” Feghali says. “This type of acting should be spread more — We have to get as many people involved as possible, so I called LAU to benefit from this.”


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