“Life, believe it or not is improvised,” said Dave Morris.
Morris, an improv teacher and artistic director of The Paper Street Theatre company in Victoria, B.C. was giving a talk at a TedX event in 2012 about “The way of Improv,” much to the audience’s delight.
In the crowd that evening was Shahin Mohammadi, a student at the University of Victoria studying education. Inspired by Morris’s words, Mohammadi decided to take his level 1 improv class and was instantly hooked.
From that moment, Mohammadi became immersed with the art of improv, taking Dave Morris’s level 1 class three times, followed by the level 2 and a master class.
“Improv was giving names to things I was doing my entire life. I became very serious about it. I recall when I first started there was so much material to absorb, it has been around for so long and I had to devote myself 100 per cent.”
What also drew Mohammadi to improv was the raw potential of performing on the spot.
“A show will only ever exist for the time that it’s being performed. Every moment that is spectacular only exists in your memory, and that’s special. I feel like that it is the closest theatrical art form to real life,” he said.
Mohammadi began performing with Dave Morris’s troupe and took over the improv group at the university. He performed in shows and tournaments all over the West Coast and in the United States.
He spent his university years honing his craft, all the while nurturing his desire to work in education and become a teacher.
After graduation, Mohammadi’s tastes began to evolve and felt it was time to move on to forge his own path.
“There’s a rule in improv: find the game, play the game times two and break the game. Which means you find something that works and then when you learned it, time to change it,” Mohammadi said.
Mohammadi’s partner, Nathalie, grew up in Atlin. Wanting to come back North, she convinced him to come with her.
“It was a huge turning point in my life, everything was such a climax. Things were about to change, it was time to shake things up. I knew we had to find an art scene, and ended up in Whitehorse” he said.
Like many artists who come to Whitehorse, Mohammadi found out about The Guild Society and attended their annual general meeting.
His timing couldn’t have been better as the Guild 2016 season was preparing to have weekly drop-in improv nights.
Mohammadi began attending them and soon was helping to teach some of the classes.
He observed that there was a lot of enthusiasm for improv from the community, which fed his inspiration to begin running his own day-long workshops at the Guild, incorporating long form techniques he learned from Dave Morris.
This fall Mohammadi took a step further, forming a partnership with the Guild Hall and has began running a 4-week improv course that will culminate into a live show on November 3.
The current group consists of 11 eclectic students of all ages. From seasoned enthusiasts to those who have never performed at all.
“We are a having so much fun together as a group,” Mohammadi said. “We’re learning the basics, but we’re learning to work with each other and I’m finding that even people who have done improv before are getting something. We are rehearsing for the show at the end and discovering new things.
“Improv isn’t just a theatre based art form. Improv is a process, we learn the process of improvising and you add it to your life –whether it’s work, relationships, or self-improvement.”
For more information about Shahin Mohammadi and his improv workshops, contact him at ShahinTeaches@gmail.com.