Hillside Festival Presents:
Family Improv Workshops! March 22-26!
Bringing together families, friends, for games, & more! For FREE!

Improv is a great way to practice co-creation, helping to develop important skills such as accepting ideas from others, listening, staying in-the-moment, quieting judgment, letting go of fear, getting comfortable with making “mistakes,” and communicating. 

In this series, we will focus on bringing families, friends, children and caregivers of all ages together from different locations. Any child-adult combo of any age is welcome!  Through a set of four workshops, we will play musical and theatrical improvisation games and exercises. 

You can choose to join all four workshops (recommended) or just sign up for one. These workshops are suitable for any ages and any ability or experience. To top it all off, these workshops are FREE! 

Participants will be given a guidebook of digital improvisation games before the workshops. By the end of the sessions, participants will have the tools to lead their own improvisation games at home and contribute to the guidebook.

Enrollment is limited to 16 people. Each session is 1 hour. You will need stable internet and access to Zoom. Some activities might require you to have space to move around and some household materials. See workshop descriptions below for more details.

Beat the pandemic blues with free family improv workshops.

Improvising Winter Soundscapes with Ben | March 22nd, 4pm-5pm EST

What do our winter soundscapes sound like? Together, we will listen and reflect on the sounds of winter, and improvise together using three musical improvisation tools: imitation, interaction, and imagination. How might we imitate the sound of a snow shovel, interact with the heat vents, and imagine new sounds of the Canadian goose? After listening and playing several games, we will compose winter soundscapes using simple graphic score techniques. Musical experience not required, only winter experience and paper and writing utensils required! Join performer-composer and bassist Ben Finley as we sonically explore how music connects us with our surrounding ecosystems.

Ben Finley

Ben Finley is a performer-composer specializing in acoustic bass and electric bass (in multiple tunings and with effects). He grew up on a music festival farm, witnessing many ecosystems of music making. He is a current PhD candidate of Critical Studies in Improvisation at the University of Guelph, composing-improvising creative ensemble music and studying arts and sustainability.

Musiking, (grAnd) Parenting and KidDing with Reza | March 23rd, 4pm-5pm EST

Let’s allow our kids to lead us.  Let’s be informed and inspired by children.  In this workshop, playing with musical elements (rhythm, pitch, loudness), each member of the family will conduct others.  This workshop will teach our children responsibility, and remind us adults that we still have our childhoods inside us, even if we are grandparents.  In this way, we will all explore new dimensions of ourselves through improvisation.  We will play music, LAUGH, and learn together. No experience or history in music required. Join Iranian musician Reza Yazdanpanah for an unforgettable afternoon of releasing our pandemic stresses and connecting through each other’s laughter.

Reza Yazdanpanah

Reza Yazdanpanah is an Iranian musician who is an improviser, performer, and composer. In 2016, focusing on children’s music education, he established his private music school (Yazdanpanah Music School) in Shiraz with his brothers. His research interest is creating musical improvisation games for children as social practices in order to equip them for their future lives.

Family Storytelling Hour with Jemma | March 24th, 4pm-5pm EST

Gather around our imaginary online campfire for some after-school family storytelling. This workshop will have grown-ups, young people, and children alike immersed in reminiscing, inventing, and dreaming up stories. Join community theatre practitioner Jemma Llewellyn with your friends, relatives or guardians for a fun-packed hour of improvised storytelling and drama games. No experience necessary in drama or theatre–just your imaginations!

Jemma Llewellyn

Jemma Llewellyn is an applied theatre practitioner, from Wales, with extensive experience of organizing and creating theatre for/ with/ by children and young people. She is a PhD student in the Critical Studies in Improvisation program at the University of Guelph, where her research looks at the intersections of performance, activism, social media, and adult-centrism.

Co-creating Improvisation Games with Ben, Reza, and Jemma | March26th, 4pm-5pm EST

Would you like to co-create some new theatrical and musical improvisation games and exercises that you can play throughout the pandemic? Join Ben, Jemma, and Reza for a final day of improvised fun for the whole family. Using theatrical and musical improvisation, we’ll come together and share what we have collectively created over the last 3 days.


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