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Mission Possible: Teenager Directs Improv Show

Posted By Karen Young On June 21, 2009 @ 11:14 pm In Arts & Culture,My Daily Find,Theater | No Comments

sarahdzida110BY SARAH DZIDA

When Karoline Ordonez first began taking improv classes, it’s doubtful she ever saw herself directing a show, let alone a month-long run and with actors whose ages range from 4 to 14,…at the age of 17. But that’s exactly what’s happening: The 10-year veteran of Total Improv for Kids has been directing her first show, Mission Improv-able, at the Avery Schreiber Theatre in North Hollywood.

17-year-old Karoline Ordonez directing her first show at the Avery Schreiber Theatre in North Hollywood. Photo: Courtesy Linda Fulton
17-year-old Karoline Ordonez directing her first show at the Avery Schreiber Theatre in North Hollywood. Photo: Courtesy Linda Fulton

Total Improv founder and director Linda Fulton, who’s been Ordonez’s teacher since she started improv at the age of 7, says, “[Since I began Total Improv], I have never allowed anybody to direct my kids in a show. II could also never find someone to substitute for me [because] I didn’t like the way they would address the children, as opposed to adults. I wanted them to treat [the children] as equals and give them insightful notes to help them understand where they are in a scene better.”

Fulton discovered what she calls Ordonez’s “intuitive” teaching ability about a year and a half ago. Ordonez, who always comes in early to watch Fulton teach, says, “One day [Linda] got a phone call and she had to step out of the room so she left me in charge. So I continued what she was doing, and when she came in, she just kind of stood there, looking at me and what was going on onstage. So [from then on], she started leaving me alone for like five minutes and ten minutes and then for the whole class. That’s how it started.”

Ordonez laughs that at the time, she had no idea that was what Fulton was up to, but Fulton’s confidence in her protégé is sincere. Both are very excited to see Ordonez’s class take the stage this June. Of the class, Fulton says, “[Karoline] drew the shyness out of them, now they’re eager. They can’t wait. They’re chomping at the bit.”

Ordonez says she’s been drilling her class since February for the group’s first show and run together as a group. To prepare, the improv-ers practice certain “bits,” which are segments in the show that require audience participation. Improv Idol, is an example of one bit. An improv-er will ask the audience for a topic and then must sing about whatever topic they get. Ordonez says that even her four-year-old student is successfully participating in the bit. “Singing about shoes,” Ordonez says, “It’s so random.”

State Senator Caroline Liu presented Karoline Ordonez a certificate for her achievements.  Photo: Courtesy Linda Fulton
State Senator Caroline Liu presented Karoline Ordonez a certificate for her achievements. 

She also focuses on pacing and covering. Because improv is spontaneous acting, the young performers need to be a cohesive machine. Fulton says, “Everybody has to work together in order to make the thing work, and that takes time. [Karoline’s] trained them to know that how to go and rescue somebody if they’re in trouble.”

And of her future in improv? Ordonez says, “I love that I have this in me because it really does help in so many situations.” Fulton adds, “What improv training does is enable [the kids] to think out of the box and to not be afraid to walk into any situation or speak in front of a group. It doesn’t matter what [Karoline] chooses to do with her life, it will serve her no matter what.”

Catch Mission Improv-able at the Avery Schreiber Theatre in North Hollywood through June 27, Saturdays from 1 PM to 2 PM. General admission: $10.

Avery Schreiber Theatre
1150 Magnolia Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA. 91601
www.totalimprov.com
(818) 766-9100

Sarah Dzida is an editor and freelance writer in the greater Los Angeles area where she takes great pleasure in learning about new things, especially about her city. For more on Sarah, visit: www.dthroughz.com.

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