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A meet up in Huelin park. Mylaga
Improvising in English in Malaga city

Improvising in English in Malaga city

Mylaga is a group of foreign English-language speakers who do improvisation theatre shows and workshops and hold informal meetups

Friday, 25 August 2023, 17:00

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Mylaga is an English language improvised theatre group started by Alfonso Garzas and his then girlfriend, in September 2022. Alfonso, 34, moved to Malaga from Finland last year, having spent two years in Helsinki and previously, eight years in Berlin, where he was also involved in similar Spanish and English-speaking groups.

When Alfonso moved to Malaga he was keen to continue the hobby that he had enjoyed while living abroad. He also knows from personal experience that it is a great way of meeting people from different places.

"There's a big expat community in Malaga and we didn't want to take anything away from Spanish groups who were already doing improv, so we decided to start up an English-speaking group," the cofounder of Mylaga explains.

The couple went their separate ways but Alfonso decided to keep the group going and has plans to expand it further in the coming months.

Alfonso says, "It gives a nice opportunity for people to mingle with people of different ages and different nationalities." Every meetup attracts around 30 people from the UK, other European countries, Americans and Spanish people who speak English and want to practise. "Everyone has different backgrounds, there's a mixture of ages and different life experiences. We have all ages, from uni students to people in their 60s," he explains.

As well as fortnightly meetups, the group has also organised two performances and have another one coming up on 2 September.

On the spot

Alfonso explains that improv is "improvised theatre and comedy. There's no script, no preparation. The preparation is about the skills you learn - spontaneity, narrating and acting. When you're doing improv you are the director, scriptwriter and actor all at the same time. It's on the spot."

He adds that many of the people that go along to the meetings have "no previous acting experience" but are attracted to the group as it's a good way of meeting people but also that the skills taught are related to real life. "You learn to be able to communicate and react and it helps with public speaking skills," He says and highlights, "I think people who sign up for the training think 'this can serve me in my normal life'."

During the meetups there is a warm-up and concentration mind game activities which, Alfonso explains, "teach people how to fail but that it's fine to do so. It doesn't matter. It's about being present and facing challenges – even if what we do are silly challenges. We provide a safe place, a place to have fun. Even if you haven't acted, we have all lived and had experiences that we can use".

The next meet up is on 27 August at 4pm, in preparation for the show on 2 September. As well as the fortnightly meetups, Alfonso is planning a series of workshops and more formal classes, with the first weekend workshop taking place on 23 and 24 September.

Ahead of the show, Alfonso explains that it is all unscripted and the only audience participation is possible invitations to suggest themes for a sketch. "Sometimes we ask people to write ideas on pieces of paper, although sometimes they can be a bit rude, especially if you're doing a performance in a bar. In those cases we either ignore or work around them. It depends on the audience and I always think, if something doesn't inspire you, don't use it."

Bedazzled

Alfonso has been acting since he was a child but is very clear that he has always wanted it to remain a hobby. He had acting classes in his hometown of Soria (Castilla y León), but "never liked the idea of learning the scripts", so they always gave him non-speaking roles on stage "because I was funny but I couldn't remember the lines".

It was when he went to an improv show in Madrid that he was "bedazzled". One of the tricks of improv Alfonso explains is, "if the players are having fun, the audience has fun."

He says he has had opportunities to turn it into a career but chose not to: "Living off theatre work is very hard. I would have had to accept jobs I didn't want to do and I wouldn't have enjoyed it." Instead, Alfonso's day job is marketing for a charity which he says "is very satisfying".

Twenty per cent of the income from the meetups and 10 per cent from shows, workshops and classes go to Los Ángeles Malagueños de la Noche: "They do a great job. We're expats – I include myself in that – and we're contributing to the identification of the city, so it's only fair that we put something back. We have a very good relationship with the charity," Alfonso points out.

Anyone interested in going to the show on 2 September should register in advance. It is at José Herencia de Cocina and starts at 8.30pm. Registration is required for the workshops, but anyone can turn up to the informal meetups.

For further information about the show, workshops and meetups visit: www.mylaga.org

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