Artistic Teaching

ERLNMYR > Teaching > Artistic Teaching

Who am I as a teacher?

Ben Ver­hoe­ven is a pro­fes­si­o­nal impro­vi­ser and tea­cher from Ant­werp, Bel­gi­um. He’s cur­rent­ly the mana­ging direc­tor of Swaajp Impro­the­a­ter, co-direc­tor of Were­wol­ves the improv show and also per­forms musi­cal impro­vi­sa­ti­on with Com­mo­tie. Sin­ce star­ting impro­vi­sa­ti­on in 2011, Ben has per­for­med over one hund­red shows in nine dif­fe­rent coun­tries in three dif­fe­rent lan­gu­a­ges.

Ben has been run­ning the Swaajp School of Improv sin­ce 2017 and regu­lar­ly tea­ches work­shops to various groups in Bel­gi­um and abroad (Ger­ma­ny, New Zea­land, Fran­ce, Slo­ve­nia, The Nether­lands). He’s also a foun­ding mem­ber of The SIN, an inter­na­ti­o­nal net­work for ambi­tious impro­vi­sers in Euro­pe. Ben belie­ves that playing through emo­ti­ons and a character’s point of view leads impro­vi­sers to fin­ding more beau­ti­ful sto­ries to put on sta­ge.

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My workshops

When going abroad to teach at impro­vi­sa­ti­on groups or fes­ti­vals, I love sha­ring my point of view on impro­vi­sa­ti­on in the hope of inspi­ring other impro­vi­sers to try out new things. Many times I’ve learnt so much myself from wor­king with new peo­p­le that have dif­fe­rent per­spec­ti­ves or sty­les and that mutu­al enrich­ment is my ulti­ma­te dream.

Below are the descrip­ti­ons of the work­shops that I can bring. All work­shops are avai­la­ble in English, Dut­ch and French. Feel free to send me a mes­sa­ge to talk about what (else) I can do for you!

Pathos and passion

For me, the most rewar­ding moment on sta­ge doing improv is the abso­lu­te silen­ce that engulfs a the­a­tre during an emo­ti­o­nal sce­ne. Achie­ving this means you have suc­ces­sful­ly con­nec­ted to your audien­ce. You made them care so much that they are even hol­ding their bre­ath awai­ting how the sce­ne will unfold.

One impor­tant aspect for cre­a­ting such moments is showing honest emo­ti­ons. This work­shop is about exploi­ting real and nuan­ced emo­ti­ons to make your audien­ce care. We will use acting exer­ci­ses to expe­rien­ce how our face, voi­ce and body chan­ges when fee­ling spe­ci­fic emo­ti­ons. We will ana­ly­ze tho­se chan­ges and employ them to inject ten­si­on into a sce­ne. If you invest in your sce­ne, the audien­ce will invest in you.

Keeping up appearances

Some­ti­mes when impro­vi­sing a sce­ne, we don’t know whe­re we’re hea­ded, other times we are sur­pri­sed by our partner’s offer.  In both cases, we don’t want the audien­ce to noti­ce this. Showing con­fi­den­ce — mea­ning hiding our doubt as an actor — is the key to make this work.

In this work­shop we will work on con­fi­dent­ly making bold offers, but also fol­low our part­ners’ strong offers with as much con­fi­den­ce. Whi­le the actor some­ti­mes doesn’t know what the hell they’re doing, the charac­ter always knows. Con­fi­den­ce will beco­me our second natu­re.

Werewolves, the improv show

Were­wol­ves is an impro­vi­sed the­a­tre show based on the popu­lar game Were­wol­ves of Miller’s Hol­low. The actors play out the sto­ry of a vil­la­ge which is struck by a were­wolf cur­se. Eve­ry night an inno­cent vil­la­ger is mur­de­red. The audien­ce has to find out who the were­wol­ves are and exe­cu­te them. Together with Syt­se Wil­man, I co-direct a Dut­ch-Bel­gi­an ensem­ble that per­forms this show at inter­na­ti­o­nal fes­ti­vals.

In this work­shop, you will learn to per­form this show full of blood-thir­sty wol­ves and inno­cent vil­la­gers. Step by step I will gui­de you through its dif­fe­rent pha­ses and teach some tech­ni­ques that help to con­vin­cin­gly per­form it. We give some spe­ci­al atten­ti­on to sus­pen­se and the sta­ge pic­tu­re.

Songs with structure

In this work­shop we dive into some new and refur­bis­hed ide­as you can use for impro­vi­sing songs. We will learn some struc­tu­res that are gua­ran­teed to impress your audien­ce. Par­ti­ci­pants are expec­ted to have pre­vious expe­rien­ce with musi­cal impro­vi­sa­ti­on.

This work­shop is taught together with the ama­zing pia­nist Ingmar Das­se­vil­le. The mate­ri­al for this work­shop was devel­o­ped during rehear­sals with our musi­cal impro­vi­sa­ti­on ensem­ble Com­mo­tie.

Nature’s call

Peo­p­le are born with the abi­li­ty to move, see, lis­ten, touch, tas­te and … to make music. This work­shop is about using the num­ber one instru­ment that natu­re has pro­vi­ded for us — our voi­ce — for making our own sound­track on sta­ge. We will build up songs with beats, har­mo­nies and melo­dies and learn to use them for both unders­co­ring sce­nes with music and sin­ging ful­ly impro­vi­sed a capel­la songs.

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