Last week I was an extra on a major Hollywood production in Budapest. An extra is in the background of a scene to make it more realistic, for instance people walking down a busy street around the main characters. Being an extra requires no qualifications and extras are explicitly told “don’t speak to anyone important.” However when I found myself in a small café with Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon I decided this rule doesn’t apply to me.
Our motto at Red Ball Theater is “Break the Rules” however it should read “Break the Rules... Constructively.” It’s easy to break the rules by shouting like a crazy person until you’re kicked out of the room but it is better for everyone if we’re smart about it. This requires experience and social intelligence. In my fantasy world I waited for the perfect moment to introduce myself to Mila and Kate and end up booking them for our next improv show during post-threesome pillow talk. But in reality I waited for the perfect moment and had 3 lines of back-and-forth with Kate about improv and then shut the hell up. However those 3 lines of dialogue weren’t easy.
Here’s how the shoot goes: Dozens of people scramble in a small café to create the perfect shot by positioning the background, the props and the characters. While setting up, the “second team” is used. The second team is body doubles of the main characters – two Hungarian girls that have roughly the same body size as Mila/Kate. While second team is around things are chaotic but as soon as you hear “first team coming in, quiet” the atmosphere changes in a snap to professionalism. The message is clear: don’t waste the talent’s time. Everything about the experience screams: don’t talk to them. You’re going to get yelled at, kicked off and they’ll probably ignore you anyway. Even my outgoing life of sales and hustling didn’t prepare me for this kind of celebrity.
Despite every ounce of me screaming to keep my mouth shut, I found a moment with Kate McKinnon sitting on the stairs right next to me as Mila was talking with the director and asked her “how much of your part is improvised?” She bit and after 10 seconds of conversation I returned to silently flirting with my fake-extra-date.
Did I know this would be well-received? Of course not. Did I have any prior experience here? Absolutely not. Did I risk getting yelled at and kicked off set? Yes. I knew all of this and I chose to experiment anyway. This attitude of “I don’t know what’s going to happen – let’s do it!” is what we practice in Red Ball’s improv classes. Many of our fears and protective mechanisms are useful but many of them get in the way of happiness. To the untrained eye it’s hard to tell the difference but in improv class we create an atmosphere where failing is celebrated. Therefore we start to learn about ourselves, our egos and when we can safely set it aside and learn.
Talk to any of our students and they’ll rave about the experience of setting aside 3 hours a week to let loose. However we realize that not everyone can commit to 8 full weeks without knowing what it’s like. To that effect, we announce a “Crush your Ego Bootcamp” coming Saturday 2 September. Over the course of 5 hours, we’ll introduce enough basic improv to get a feel for where your ego comes up. The workshop is developed specifically to help overcome social anxiety, fear of failing, discomfort with sexual energy, and allow you to step to the stage of life confidently. You’ll leave our workshop with a plan for how to overcome your limitations to help you achieve fulfillment in life. You’ll see immediate results in your self-confidence and public speaking skills. Warning: you may become addicted to improv.
Join our facebook event or register directly on event-brite to secure your spot.