We receive a lot of questions from potential students, teachers and staff. So we’ve put the most popular ones together all in one place. If your question isn’t answered here, then just contact us directly! The following pages might also help:
If you already have experience and wish to join our classes or shows, then see our join us page.
I turned up for my first class, and there was nobody there!
When you register for a class, we immediately send you an email confirming that you are registered, and explain that we’ll send you another email with more details in the week before the class begins. Please make sure you receive the initial email which confirms that you are registered for the class. You may need to check your spam folder!
In the week before the class begins, we’ll send you a much more detailed email which includes everything you need to know about the class, including the location. Please make sure that you’ve received this email as well.
Note that our office and mailing address is Level 20, Tower A, The Zenith, 821 Pacific Highway in Chatswood, but we don’t run classes there. The email we send you the week before, contains the address of where the class will be held.
I arrived at Level 20, Tower A, The Zenith, and I couldn’t get in!
We’re so sorry. We don’t run our classes at Level 20, Tower A, The Zenith. You need to check the email we sent you the week before the class begins. If you don’t have that email, then you can send us a message through this website via our Contact form, which we monitor closely when a new class begins. Make sure you include your name, phone number and the class you are supposed to be in.
Are you currently running face to face classes?
Yes. We are running face to face classes which follow the current NSW health and safety rules and with some additional measures of our own. You can check our full safety measures in our COVID-19 Safety Plan.
When do you run your sales?
We consistently have the lowest price improv classes in Sydney and our prices for each class wont change once the class is listed on our website. We know other schools regularly offer discounts or list classes as “on sale”, but our standard price is always lower than their discounted price. If you find a better deal, then let us know!
I don’t want to do improv. I just want to be a bit more confident. Do you do that?
Yes we do! Our curriculum starts with our 4 week beginners 101 class which does this and more, without any work on “improv for the stage”. If students wish to do improv after that, then they continue on to our multi–level improv programme and already have the foundations in place to accelerate that training. No other improv schools offers this foundational beginners’ training.
Do I have to get on stage in your classes or for graduation shows?
No. We don’t run mandatory graduation shows, and no student will pass or fail based on whether they’ve been on stage. We do however run shows for students at intermediate levels and above. All of our shows are opt–in, so you have to want to be on–stage in order to be in them. You can certainly do all of our classes successfully and learn real world skills and techniques, having never once stepped on–stage.
If I begin training with you, can I also go elsewhere?
Certainly, and we can’t stop you doing that if you wish. However we strongly recommend only training at one improv school at a time, otherwise contradictory learning can occur. Basically you’re learning the muscle memory of one method at one school, and then replacing it with another method muscle memory a few days later. It’s a really bad way to learn improv. Even if you don’t train with us, choose one school and run their programme, then once you’ve completed that, choose another. Our book Inside Improvisation covers this in more detail.
Our training uniquely prepares you for all of the different main methods of improvisation that are taught today. By training with us first, this will give you the very best start for when you decide to train at another school. Many of our students do exactly this.
What is “Keith Johnstone’s Impro” and “Chicago method improv”?
These are the names of just two of several different methods for playing improv scenes. When you learn one method, it becomes your muscle memory for improvising and you typically play best with others who have learned the same method. Learn Keith’s Impro, play Keith’s Impro. Learn Chicago improv, then play Chicago improv.
We can’t codify the exact differences in a short FAQ, but typically if you learned “Offers and Advancing the scene” then that is Keith Johnstone, and if you learned “finding the relationship or game” then that’s the Chicago method. If you learned both together as the way to improvise, then you were actually taught a mix of partly contradictory methods. It’s extremely difficult to learn both methods separately and then be able to play either method when needed, which is why we’re the only school in Australia to successfully do so.
We’ve noticed some other schools say they give the best all-round training or they teach a mix of different techniques as if there’s only one way to improvise, but that’s a common misunderstanding of how improvisation works. Our book Inside Improvisation covers this in much more detail.
When are your Sydney inner west classes?
Every now and again as there is demand, but not as regularly as our Chatswood and north shore classes. Our international guest master classes always run in the inner west.
Do you offer scholarships?
Yes we do. We offer improvisation scholarships for various reasons and at our discretion, and there are always current improvisation scholars working their way through our programmes. These scholarships range from discounts for individual classes, through to fully paid progression through all of our programmes.
Generally our improvisation scholars are people we feel would greatly benefit from our training and where it would be beneficial to AOI to have them train with us.
You can read more about our scholarships and how to apply, on our Improv Scholarships page.
I missed a class, can I still go to the next level?
It depends on the class and which lessons you miss. You can find out more on our Catch ups for missed lessons FAQ page.
Intermediate & Advanced Classes
You only have beginners classes. Is this correct?
Not at all. We offer intermediate and advanced classes, and actually have the most advanced and comprehensive improv curriculum in Sydney — if not the world, but it is impossible to know for sure.
I’ve done some improv before, so can I skip your beginners classes?
Our Improvisation 101 beginners class introduces general improvisation skills and theory that is not taught by other improv schools and is used as a foundation for all of our other classes. If you already have some improv experience, then you’ll still need to take our Improvisation 101 to get these foundations. After that we may be able to place you in a more advanced class depending on your experience and wherever else you’ve trained. See our join us page for more details.
I only did a level or two somewhere else. Can I take your beginners’ classes?
Yes. We take students who have had up to 5 years of experience in improv. See our join us page for more details.
I took classes at another school but don’t seem to have the improv knowledge that others have who trained elsewhere. Can I take your classes?
We find this a lot. Most students love improv classes as the best thing since sliced bread. But only after some time does this subside and they are able to compare the quality of students from competing schools. See our join us page for more details.
Why can’t I just take your advanced classes?
We teach improv differently, and we prefer to do that from the very beginning. Our students end up with the best training in many different improv methods, and that approach requires a beginner level clean slate. If you’ve trained elsewhere, then we don’t know what you learned or who you learned it from, so you may come with training and improv muscle memory that will need to be fixed or changed before entering our curriculum. See our join us page for more details.
I missed a few weeks of classes, can I continue to the next level?
Improv classs aren’t like a gym class where you can drop in and continue whenever you like. Every lesson of our curriculum is important, and every lesson builds on what has gone before. If you miss a single lesson, then you miss out on skills required for later lessons, and these will be permanent skill gaps unless you rerun that lesson at a later date. For this reason we recommend you come to every lesson, unless it is impossible for you to do so due to illness or unforeseen work or personal commitments. You can read more about this on our Catch ups for missed lessons page.
Can my group hire you for private training in the inner west?
Absolutely! Our teachers are usually available for any kind of improvisation, improv or spontaneity training you need, pretty much anywhere in Sydney. We love working with different groups at various experience levels, as well as helping organisations improve their team work, spontaneity and agility. Private training is also the easiest way for experienced improvisors to join our classes, as our teachers will be able to observe your group and prepare you for our curriculum. Contact us if you’d like to hire us for private or corporate training.
Our group didn’t train at AOI, can you still train/coach us?
Yes, absolutely. Get in touch with us. Better yet, just take our classes!
Our group isn’t in Sydney, can you still train/coach us?
Absolutely. Depending on where the group is, we can physically travel to you. We also have a range of online training techniques for improv, all centred around having a teacher or coach working live with students or performers. Contact us for details.
Do you run workshops for business?
Yes we do! You can read more about what we do on our Corporate Training page.
Can you run a team building or bonding session for my team day?
We don’t run generic team building or bonding sessions, because we feel this is a vague and very low bar for which to aim. Our workshops are all outcome driven, giving staff additional skills way beyond “bonding”, while allowing staff to actually “bond” at the same time over the shared learning and improved abilities. Our workshops are all based on the latest science and research, and skills and experience are delivered along with this understanding. For more information, see our Corporate Training page.
Do you do pro bono corporate training?
Yes we do. Working with organisations in the local community, those doing good ethical work, and those with similar goals, align with our mission statement. In some cases where we are inspired or are in awe of an organisation or it’s work, at our discretion we offer our services pro bono.
Teachers & Faculty
I can teach improv. Can I teach for you?
Sure! We love new teachers coming on board with us and we’re always on the look out for good teachers. However due to the nature of our curriculum, we require a very high standard of teaching, either in improv, drama or other related domains, along with a formal teaching background at either school or corporate level. We do make exceptions though, so let us know if you’re interested.
I taught improv at another school. Can I teach for you?
That depends on what you taught and what other experience you have. We don’t hire improvisors who would like to learn how to teach, students who are a few years out of classes, or improvisors who also teach. You must have other skills in teaching and/or drama or related domains in order to teach with us.
Do you have an Assistant Teacher, Train The Trainer or Teaching Track programme?
No. We don’t teach our teachers how to be teachers. We also don’t hire teachers from people who have recently been through these kinds of programmes.
Can you tell me who your teachers are, as they aren’t on your website?
No, sorry. Our faculty aren’t shown on our website, except where they also hold senior advisory roles. If you’ve signed up for a class, then you will receive an email regarding who your teacher will be. If you haven’t signed up yet and wish to know who your teacher will be before you do, then contact us directly.
Who are your beginners class teachers then?
We don’t have fixed beginners class teachers. Our faculty are also practicing artists and teachers, and so we schedule them based on their availability. Your teacher for a particular class might not be the same as your friend’s teacher who took them for an earlier running of that class.
What’s this “modern” and “classic” Harold you mention in class descriptions?
The show format most popularly referred to these days around the world as Harold, is actually called a training wheels Harold, and is a beginners’ version of the original “free and open” Harold. The training wheels Harold has a rough fixed structure and rules that guide beginner improvisors in their early days of learning Harold, but also comes with some historical baggage which often denigrates the format for modern audiences. We teach both a “modern” Harold – an updated version of the training wheels Harold for contemporary audiences – as well as the “classic” Harold with its more theatrical and mystical elements.
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I love you guys, you’re awesome!
You’re totally awesome and we love you too! If you have any further questions, then just ask.