Bay Area Improv Training Centers – Focus on Leela
As part of our effort to promote community & build appreciation for the quality and diversity of the various improv training centers in the Bay Area, we want to highlight some of the goings on.
In this third installment we learn about Leela Improv through conversation with co-founder & Artistic Director, Jill Eickmann. She says, “We preach playing from a place of love and mutual respect, and teach valuable skills of listening and awareness early in our curriculum. Not only do these skills create strong performers, but more importantly, kind human beings.”
When can we see Leela at the SFIF this year?
The Unwritten Bedroom, Off By One Letter, EuroTrash, Liss & Sams, Sketchy Alley and Shades of Grey are all groups that have emerged from Leela. Find tickets HERE
How long has Leela been part of Bay Area improv?
Leela (then known as lilatheatre) was born February 2003. We became Leela in 2010 and launched our 7 level training program in January of 2013.
What are some of the most exciting things happening at Leela right now?
We are currently developing a new musical improv program under the direction of Co-Founder and Executive Producer, Christopher Eickmann (Grammy nominated just this year), focused on the exploration of sound play, multiple ways of music making, and connecting authentically through the power of rhythm.
What are you most proud of about the work Leela is doing?
Many of our students come to us for personal growth reasons and soon develop a love for the art form as well, eventually surprising themselves by performing on stage- and doing so with gusto! We preach playing from a place of love and mutual respect, and teach valuable skills of listening and awareness early in our curriculum. Not only do these skills create strong performers, but more importantly, kind human beings.
How would you describe Leela’s style or influences?
Our mission at Leela is Truthful Artistic Play. We are committed to the process of improvisation, and let go of product. The product could be dramatic, comedic, abstract, etc- as long as we are committed to being true and honest in the moment- we are doing our job as improvisors. Our influences include IO (Chicago), Annoyance, and Viola Spolin Teachings, as well as Drama Therapy and Self-Revelatory Theatre.
What should we know about the opportunities to train at Leela?
We’ve just passed the 4,000 student mark! We have a 7 Level Training Program with two sections of level one and two sections of level two. We have weekly drop-in classes (maxing at 35 students) on Mondays and Thursdays which often sell out! Our Performing Improv Ensemble (PIE) Program is going strong with 4 PIE’s performing at our weekly Saturday Night shows on a weekly basis. We are also really excited for our first LGBT identified improv ensemble, LiGht BrighT!