The second person asks What are you doing? But if the pope slips on a banana peel and his hat falls off, this is very funny despite the fact that hes a frail old manbecause of the status his position and costume endow him with. So we started to study what people like Bill Clinton or George Clooney did to give the impression of always being the most confident person in the room while at the same time being eminently likeable. Youll look and act like youre really there. When youre stuck for an idea you can just look around the space: Can I use your fax machine? Divide the group into pairs and have one person shut their eyes and the other ask them questions. UNDER THE GUN The best ending to this scene I ever saw was performed in a show by Deborah and Chris Gibbs. Once you look for it, it becomes very obvious that reactions, emotional changes, are the heart and soul of stories, but oddly they are often not the most conspicuous features. What raising the stakes really means, is how much the characters care about the plot whether or not they happen to be wearing their hearts on their sleeves. Most comedy involves people having big reactions to little events. That offer can be a slight furrow of the brow or a tilt of the head, which makes the improviser look a little sadgiving rise to a breakup scene. A shifting of the weight from foot to foot makes the improviser look uncertaingiving rise to a secret diary scene. A confident air implies that the improviser is an authority figuregiving rise to a scene about a cruel military dictator. Improvisers can visualize themselves as detectives on the look-out for clues which they can act on. Which means the next person, Tina, can enter with yet another physicality. But there is a great deal of anticipatory pleasure in seeing what will happen when the hyperactive child enters the room in which the nervous old lady Keiths solution is to begin with a purpose, or what Stanislavski called a super-objective. This is the thing that a given character is almost always trying to achieve in life. Our problem was how to improvise characters with dimension, like classic characters in fiction that interested audiences; characters like people we knew in life. Almost any scene youve played a million times before (strict parents and rebellious teenagers are a constant) can be given a new lease of life this way. If the gun is remembered and exploredshe goes to confessional, confesses to a murder and shoots the priest in the head for fear hell tell her secret, or is leaving the convent to take her revenge on the man who murdered her family, or is a nun as well as a part-time private investigatorthe audience will be interested and, as long as it is justified, will feel its a deeper character than they normally see. Sketches are usually drawn in bold strokes, so the strict teacher is unlikely to show that theyre a person too, and in their youth they experimented with drugs and had their heart broken which led to less-than-exemplary schoolwork. If you have to make an arrest while youre doing it, if you ask her out the way youd normally question a suspect, if you end up finding drugs in her handbag and arresting her while youre in the process of telling her how much you love her, then the audience will love it. Remember, we arent asking our audience to sit back and admire our physical dexterity; we want to make the world of the story rich and complete so that they can lose themselves in itand so that we can too, to a certain extent. Its also fun to get improvisers to make themselves a mime cup of tea, which should take as long to make as a real cup of tea. I get two players up and give them a fairly bland scenario: two builders having lunch, a librarian and a customer, a doctor and a patient. I tell them just to play the scene and I will give them a direction. Doctor: (Getting the idea) Well, actually it does mean something . When students complain to us about other improv teachers, a common complaint is that the teachers are reviewers criticizing scenes at the end If a woman says yes to a marriage proposal, cut to the honeymoon. Most improvisation is about people having trivial reactions to serious situations. Often we are tickling our audiences, who get used to making little laughter-like noises at whatever improvisers do. Shakespeares plays have thrilled millions of people for hundreds of years because theyre all about people who care, who are changed, affected, vulnerable, hysterical, insane, angry, joyful and desperately in love. Backwards Scene: e.g. Murder In Reverse, where you start (end) with a dead body on the floor. Clap Switcheroo: When one player claps their hands, everyone picks someone elses character and takes it over. Inner Monologue Two improvisers play a scene, while two more supply their inner thoughts at various intervals. A second person joins, adding to the tableau. Again, the second person adopts an appropriate pose. Finally, a third person joins and completes the tableau. The king and the throne leave together and the remaining player restates their role (I am a cushion) and so the sequence starts again. More Stories Like That Three improvisers tell a story, taking one line each at a time, according to the following sequence. If anyone stumbles, either over the template or the content, Fog of War The idea that improvisers are easily distracted by the stress of the situation and will fail to see or hear things that are easily noticed by the more relaxed audience.
then this book is for you, as for me I started improv courses...
The Improv Handbook is at its best when it's discussing games and exercises - because these are the concrete building blocks of the form. The book does an excellent job explaining specific goals and ideas in improv, and how particular games can teach these ideas, and help actors practice and sharpen these specific skills. Do you want to know the names of every single teacher and investor they ever had?) I highly recommend this book to actors who want to deepen their understanding of improv, and particularly those looking to improve their skills through practice and exercise.
I want to look forward to reading Johnstone's Impro Improvisation and the Theatre, but i'm expecting it to be just as annoyingly ideologue-ish.