Just as with techniques he would employ in his improvisational performances, Calvin George learned from his family’s experience and continued building upon it.
When his older sister interned with Blue Blanket Improv roughly six years ago, George took notice and saw how much fun she was having. Though internships are typically reserved for high school seniors who receive a Blue Blanket Scholarship, George stood out with his enthusiasm for improv.
He joined the troupe prior to his sophomore year at Half Moon Bay High School. Now as a senior, he has a few years of experience regularly performing improv. During Monday night rehearsals, George is one of the lead instructors helping fellow classmates practice new scenes and exercises.
“I started watching all of her shows and I thought it looked really fun,” George recalled of his sister’s fun with the troupe. “I pretty much joined as soon as I was old enough.”
The monthly shows from the Half Moon Bay-based improvisational troupe raise funds for the Half Moon Bay High School drama department and for an annual scholarship. The next performance is from 7 to 9 p.m. on Feb. 29 at Half Moon Bay High School and will include seven students from the upcoming “Newsies!” musical production. The group’s scholarship program is meant to encourage students to pursue performing arts at the college level.
Since 2007, the nonprofit has donated more than $20,000 to Half Moon Bay High School students.
“It’s exactly as fun as I thought it would be,” George said. “It’s just that the structure of the games and skills you develop are a lot different than what you think they are as an audience member.” With scenes like “Household Olympics,” “Foley Artist,” and “Foreign Poet” just to name a few, the skills the troupe must utilize vary.
The troupe was founded by Marc Samuels in 2001. When he lived in Southern California he had performed at large venues such as Connection Comedy Theatre and the Second City Hollywood.
According to Samuels, confidence is just one element of improv’s impact. “The core structure of improv is ‘yes, and...,’” Samuels said. “Not asking questions, accepting reality and building on it.”
Blue Blanket takes that basic improv structure and expands it into a collaborative effort. It’s the goal of everyone on stage to work together to provide the best experience.
“That’s the other part; you’re never alone, Samuels said. “Whatever you do or say on stage, no matter how stupid or whatever, someone else will back you up. That becomes your group reality.”
For more information on schedules and ticket prices visit blueblanketimprov.org.