By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
Improvisation means different things to different people in the world. Some consider it an art form, some think of it as merely an exercise used to explore the depths of an established, scripted character, while others still have no idea what any of this means and just like to watch people say funny, spontaneous things onstage. For one boy it means “Freedom!” For one little girl it means “Being able to talk to people I don’t know!” And for the young man who wants nicotine with his corn flakes, it means “You don’t need to feel embarrassed or feel totally under pressure when you make a mistake.”
While Total Improv 4 Kids! is not yet fleshing out the cast of Saturday Night Live, Fulton says being part of the troupe has given the kids a welcome shot of self-confidence, sometimes dramatically so. For instance, after four years with the group, 16-year-old Ernie Davidson of South L.A. recently decided to graduate high school early and will be enrolling in college and plans to be a medical assistant. Galvan has been a member from the very beginning and technically was supposed to leave the group after turning 18. However, since she wanted to stay and everybody wanted her to stay, and since this isn’t Menudo, Fulton made her an assistant and still lets her perform with the company. Now, Galvan works with Fulton teaching improv to developmentally disabled adults in Pasadena.
It’s minutes before the Saturday rehearsal. Cars pull up outside, kids hop out and stream up to the theater’s front door. As the young improvisers meander in, they recount their weeks to one another. What happened in science class? Are you still taking karate? Did your mom bring treats this weekend?
Four short years ago Linda Fulton dreamed of this. Today she stands in the theater named for her friend and mentor, teaching whom she wants, how she wants.
“What do you think will make this scene work better?” she asks. “And be honest.”
“More support!” . . . “Listen more!” the kids tell each other.
Total Improv 4 Kids! will be performing once a week on Saturday afternoons at the Avery Schreiber Theater, 11050 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, starting March 6 and running through April 24. For information, call (818) 481-8072.