Workshops with Velvet Wells

Velvet (they/them) is an award winning professional devised theatre artist living in Ottawa, the unceded, unsurrendered territory of the Algonquin nation. Velvet is an agent of empowerment, creating curriculums and delivering improvisation workshops that give people space to develop their competence, consciousness, self-efficacy, and create positive connections. 

Velvet chooses organizations with clear mandates to reduce financial barriers for Indigenous, Black and People of Colour (IBPOC) participants, while maintaining a fair wage for facilitators. When producing workshops independently, they embrace the gift economy — through scholarships/bursaries, pay-it-forward, pay what you will, and donations.

Community accountability
We will embrace and
reinforce Consent Informed Spaces

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Upcoming Sessions

Mindful Menace for Deferential People. Photo: Curtis Perry

Mindful Menace Intensive (#improv)

Level: intermediate | Duration: 2 hours

November 12, 2022 noon ET
Pay What You Will (Eventbrite)

We, the nicest, kindest, most people-pleasing-est improvisers, are gathered today to explore the antagonistic side of narrative, while staying grounded in consent and boundary mindfulness.

Agenda:

  • Expressing and Frustrating “the Want”
  • Finding your level of antagonism
  • Playing to win and still losing

Previously Offered Sessions

26 Ways to Play the Alphabet Game (#improv)

Co-taught with Stephen Davidson, Impromiscuous

Level: intermediate | Duration: 2.5 hours

Do you enjoy word games? You’re going to love deconstructing the Alphabet Game. We’ll look at how and why we play the game, the different skills we can learn, and find some fun new challenges in an old favourite. Are there 26 ways to play the game? Let’s find out together!


HEIST Takes Improv with Velvet Wells (#improv)

Level: Intermediate | Duration: 3 hours

HEIST Takes Improv is Velvet Wells’ exploration of longform ensemble improvisation using the caper crime subgenre.

Focused on ensemble fun with strong personalities, expertise, and goals, watch this intrepid team pull off the perfect heist in the most imperfect way possible.

Workshops are capped at 10 performers.

Unleash your Shower Swagger! An Online Musical Class with Velvet Wells (#musical #improv)

Six weeks

Level: Intermediate | Duration: 2 hours (each session)

Those with previous improvisational or singing experience are welcome to attend

Unleash your Shower Swagger is Velvet Duke’s musical improv workshop series to help you center the joy of singing songs while building your confidence in improvisation. Whether you are used to singing on stage, or just for yourself in the shower, we’ll embrace and unleash your “Shower Swagger” so you can prioritize fun over perfection.

Over the six weeks, you’ll practice rhyming, storytelling, using emotion and silence, sharing musical focus, and creating songs as a group, duo, and, of course solo!

Queen City Comedy (March 2022)

Question Everything – Take Your Space (#BIPOC #improv)

Level: Intermediate | Duration: 2.5 hours

Members of the following affinity groups are welcome to attend this session: Black, Indigenous, Asian, and People of Colour.

When you aren’t performing in your own affinity group, situations sometimes arise that make it difficult to want to share your creative voice or take your space. It might be a microaggression, or outright attempts to silence you or to make you uncomfortable enough to leave, or a lack of shared reference.

In this workshop, we’ll reforge our boundaries by examining and testing the intentions and impacts of three fundamental improv tenets:

  • Saying Yes
  • Statements Only
  • Sharing Focus

In fact, we’re going to twist them up to ensure we get into and play with John Lewis’ “good trouble.”

Allies from other affinity groups are encouraged to show support by signal-boosting the workshop on social media.

Offers from Space (and getting back to Sirius) (#improv)

Level: Anyone | Duration: 2 hours

“Offers from Space (and getting back to Sirius)” is part of the International Improv Station’s curated monthly classes. It is free for members as part of your annual membership. (Sign up)

Offers from Space (and getting back to Sirius)

Has your scene partner suddenly transformed an everyday office scene in an absurd direction — like being inside a cockroach? Or your partner declares that you are your own great grandfather? For many performers these are examples of disconnected “offers from space.” They want to get back to the established reality. But my interest is piqued. Space is vast and so are the opportunities to explore new levels of reality. Your scenes can be absurd, fun, and even Sirius.

Blast your inner critic to embrace outer space offers:

  • Escalate scenes to the utmost height and then sit in the mess
  • Shape reality through hyper specificity
  • Discover your galactic core by giving space and time to the moment
Smiling profile image of Velvet Wells as The Velvet Duke on a gradient blue background. In the image, Velvet is a Black man smiling to the camera and wearing a purple dress shirt. Photo: Tyra Sweet (2019)

Do You Take Song Requests? (#musicalimprov)

Level: Intermediate | Duration: 2 hours

In this workshop you’ll learn the format, how to put on a character you’ll enjoy playing for an hour, and of course, tricks for singing a variety of songs and creating instant histories for them

“Boost your confidence and your Nelsen Ratings”

Velvet and his guests perform the “All Request Radio” format

Debuted: Everybody Get In Here improv festival (June 2021)

Black Core Improv (#improv)

Level: Beginner | Duration: 2 hours | Black individuals

Improvisation is a playful way for strangers to get to know each other, to share laughs and perspectives, or to have a break away.

In this two hour workshop, we will introduce you to improvisation through collaborative storytelling games and exercises that will help you find your voice

Student Testimonial: “It was a very healing experience”

Debuted: Guelph Black Heritage Society (2021)

Find your voice through collaborative storytelling
Black Core
an introduction to improvisation
"It was a very healing experience"
A collage of six Mindful Menace workshop participants at the top posing with a sweet looking face, and repeated at the bottom posing in with a menacing face. Separating the two poses is a banner for the Improv College, the title mindful menace and Velvet Wells' face

Mindful Menace (#improv)

Level: Intermediate | Duration: 8 hours over 4 classes

Everyone talks about conquering your demons. What would it be like to play one? We’ll explore the world from the perspective of grandiose cartoon villains, all the way down to our neighbourly everyday distractions, while remaining mindful of our scene partners and the real world implications. Student Testimonial

Debuted: Improv College (2021)

Self-Paced Workshops

Decisions, Decision, Decisions (#production #improv)

Level: Anyone| Duration: self-paced

“Decisions Decisions Decisions” is a self-paced production course aimed toward people:

  1. looking to produce their first or second local comedy show,
  2. looking to fill in some knowledge gaps, and
  3. showrunners looking for tools to hand over their show to a new producer.

I find that having access to practical knowledge is my greatest cure for feeling overwhelmed and uncertain for what to do next. My course provides an overview of the different considerations you’ll make as a comedy show producer, without getting too far into specific instances. You can bring other’s on to share that knowledge over time.

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