March 19

Character = Plot

DC ARTS CENTER IMPROV COMEDY CLASS

Character = Plot

with Shawn Westfall

Shawn Westfall

Shawn Westfall has been teaching improv for over two decades. For 13 years, he was the exclusive teacher of improvisational comedy at the DC Improv, inaugurating the first improv comedy class there 21 years ago and forging the curriculum that eventually became the DC Improv Comedy School. He left the DC Improv to co-found The Unified Scene Theater, a brick-and-mortar improv comedy space in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of Washington, DC, where he was also the Artistic Director, teaching classes in short-form and long-form improv, as well as workshops in advanced improv techniques and strategies. Most recently he spent three years at Curious Comedy Theater in Portland, where he taught classes in beginning and advanced long-form improv comedy.

Shawn's been performing improv for nearly three decades at various improv theaters around the country: Loose Screws (Honolulu, HI); The Oxymorons (San Antonio, TX); ComedySportz DC, and most recently at Curious Comedy Theater (Portland, OR). In DC, he founded and directed Bright Young Things, the first improv troupe to headline at the DC Improv. He was a founding cast member and spent four years in Washington Improv Theater's iMusical (under the direction of Travis Ploeger). He's been a member of two improvised Shakespeare troupes: The Artless Bards (which he founded and co-directed at The Unified Scene Theater) and Love, Shakespeare (at Curious Comedy Theater under the direction of Kristen Schier). But it was in the long-form improv duo ShawnMikael[s], which he co-founded in 2010 and where he partnered with local DC legend Mikael Johnson, that he's enjoyed the most success, playing to audiences all over the country in numerous festival appearances and billets, racking up accolades, awards, and recognition during its existence, to include selling out a monthly performance at a 70-seat venue 33 months straight. Currently, the duo are working on debuting a new show at a space in the 16th Street Heights neighborhood of DC.

Shawn is also the founder and primary facilitator of events for Commedia Partners, a consultancy that's brought improv as a strategy for fostering creativity, leadership, teambuilding, change management, business strategy, and organizational development on-site and off-site to various private, public and non-governmental organizations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Discovery Communications, Booz Allen Hamilton, Ogilvy, Burson-Marsteller, The Washington Post Company, GEICO, The World Bank, Chipotle, Flying Dog Brewery, the National Institutes of Health, CACI, Sol Systems, Marriott International, DowDupont, ESPN, and Facebook among numerous others.

03/19/2024 7:00 PM

Door Time: 6:50 PM

Other Showtimes

This workshop is SOLD OUT.

Please sign up for the waitlist. We will reach out to you if a workshop spot opens up or if an additional workshop date is added.

Workshop Description

Many improvisers find themselves in the “plot” trap of improv, trying to solve the plotty little problems of their scenes at the expense of what makes scenes interesting in the first place: the characters operating at their centers. Characters, not plot, make all narratives -- movies, TV shows/series, plays, novels, short stories – and yes, even improv scenes – compelling. What’s the “plot” of “The Bear?” Who knows? But why do we watch? Because of those endlessly fascinating characters populating it. More importantly, by making a strong character choice in an improv scene, you’re making a plot choice, since all narratives (yes, all) are, at their core, character studies. In this workshop, you’ll learn tools and strategies for creating fun, strong, engaging characters in the moment and how to operate through those characters for scenes that entertain audiences.

Topics covered in this workshop:

  • Why great characters are integral to great improv scenes
  • Tools and strategies for crafting characters in the moment
  • How to commit to characters and behave through them in a scene

This workshop is helpful for any improviser, from novice to experienced, looking for tools to flesh out (pun intended) their character toolboxes and ways to make their scenes more compelling and audience, rather than actor, focused.

Prerequisites

  • Completion of any beginner improv class from an organization or theater’s core curriculum. 

Instructor Bio

Shawn Westfall has been teaching improv for over two decades. For 13 years, he was the exclusive teacher of improvisational comedy at the DC Improv, inaugurating the first improv comedy class there 21 years ago and forging the curriculum that eventually became the DC Improv Comedy School. He left the DC Improv to co-found The Unified Scene Theater, a brick-and-mortar improv comedy space in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of Washington, DC, where he was also the Artistic Director, teaching classes in short-form and long-form improv, as well as workshops in advanced improv techniques and strategies. Most recently he spent three years at Curious Comedy Theater in Portland, where he taught classes in beginning and advanced long-form improv comedy.

Class Details & Schedule

This is a 2.5 hour-long in-person workshop.

Location: The DC Arts Center, 2438 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009

Date: Tuesday, March 19, 7:00pm - 9:30pm

Registration Fee: $60

Class Policies

  • Must be 18 years of age or older to enroll.
  • All sales are final: classes are non-refundable. Classes are only refundable to students if there are not enough students for the class. Classes are nonrefundable under all other circumstances.
  • Masks are optional but not required.
  • See Rails Comedy's Student Handbook for full course policies.

Waitlist

  • If this class is sold out, please sign up for the waitlist above to be considered in the event of a student cancellation.

Ticketing Page Issues - Troubleshooting Steps

  • If the ticketing page doesn't allow you to purchase tickets and appears sold out, it is possible that another customer has those tickets waiting in their cart and we've reached venue capacity. Please return in 15 minutes and those tickets may be available if the other customer did not purchase them.  
  • If the error code [Object object] appears and prevents you from checking out, this usually means that you are entering some wrong information, likely the address and/or zip code connected to the credit card you are trying to use. Please double check your payment information and try again.
  • If you continue to run into issues, please contact walker@railscomedy.com. 

Shawn Westfall