Improv: How to Improvise


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Improv training has been recommended for couples therapy and therapist training, and it has been speculated that improv training may be helpful in some cases of social anxiety disorder. Improvisational theatre often allows an interactive relationship with the audience. Improv groups frequently solicit suggestions from the audience as a source of inspiration, a way of getting the audience involved, and as a means of proving that the performance is not scripted.

Rule 1: Say Yes

That charge is sometimes aimed at the masters of the art, whose performances can seem so detailed that viewers may suspect the scenes are planned. In order for an improvised scene to be successful, the improvisers involved must work together responsively to define the parameters and action of the scene, in a process of co-creation.

With each spoken word or action in the scene, an improviser makes an offer , meaning that he or she defines some element of the reality of the scene. This might include giving another character a name, identifying a relationship, location, or using mime to define the physical environment. These activities are also known as endowment. It is the responsibility of the other improvisers to accept the offers that their fellow performers make; to not do so is known as blocking, negation, or denial, which usually prevents the scene from developing.

Some performers may deliberately block or otherwise break out of character for comedic effect—this is known as gagging —but this generally prevents the scene from advancing and is frowned upon by many improvisers.

Burn Your Fear

Accepting an offer is usually accompanied by adding a new offer, often building on the earlier one; this is a process improvisers refer to as "Yes, And Every new piece of information added helps the improvisers to refine their characters and progress the action of the scene. The "Yes, And The unscripted nature of improv also implies no predetermined knowledge about the props that might be useful in a scene.


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Improv companies may have at their disposal some number of readily accessible props that can be called upon at a moment's notice, but many improvisers eschew props in favor of the infinite possibilities available through mime. In improv, this is more commonly known as 'space object work' or 'space work', not 'mime', and the props and locations created by this technique, as 'space objects' created out of 'space substance,' developed as a technique by Viola Spolin.

Because improvisers may be required to play a variety of roles without preparation, they need to be able to construct characters quickly with physicality, gestures , accents , voice changes, or other techniques as demanded by the situation. The improviser may be called upon to play a character of a different age or sex.

Character motivations are an important part of successful improv scenes, and improvisers must therefore attempt to act according to the objectives that they believe their character seeks. Many theatre troupes are devoted to staging improvisational performances and growing the improv community through their training centers. In addition to for-profit theatre troupes, there are many college-based improv groups in the United States and around the world. In Europe the special contribution to the theatre of the abstract, the surreal, the irrational and the subconscious have been part of the stage tradition for centuries.

From the s onwards a growing number of European Improv groups have been set up specifically to explore the possibilities offered by the use of the abstract in improvised performance, including dance, movement, sound, music, mask work, lighting, and so on. These groups are not especially interested in comedy, either as a technique or as an effect, but rather in expanding the improv genre so as to incorporate techniques and approaches that have long been a legitimate part of European theatre.

Some key figures in the development of improvisational theatre are Viola Spolin and her son Paul Sills , founder of Chicago's famed Second City troupe and originator of Theater Games , and Del Close , founder of ImprovOlympic along with Charna Halpern and creator of a popular longform improv format known as The Harold. Shepherd was intent on developing a true "people's Theatre", and hoped to bring political drama to the stockyards. The Compass went on to play in numerous forms and companies, in a number of cities including NY and Hyannis, after the founding of The Second City.

A number of Compass members were also founding members of The Second City.


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  • In the s, Shepherd began experimenting with group-created videos. In the s, David Shepherd and Howard Jerome created the Improvisational Olympics, a format for competition based improv.

    At IO, Halpern combined Shepherd's "Time Dash" game with Del Close's "Harold" game; the revised format for the Harold became the fundamental structure for the development of modern longform improvisation. In Jonathan Fox founded Playback Theatre , a form of improvised community theatre which is often not comedic and replays stories as shared by members of the audience.

    The Groundlings is a popular and influential improv theatre and training center in Los Angeles , California. The late Gary Austin , founder of The Groundlings, taught improvisation around the country, focusing especially in Los Angeles. He was widely acclaimed as one of the greatest acting teachers in America. His work was grounded in the lessons he learned as an improviser at The Committee with Del Close, as well as in his experiences as founding director of The Groundlings.

    The Groundlings is often seen as the Los Angeles training ground for the "second generation" of improv luminaries and troupes.

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    Why Learn to Improvise? — BIG FORK THEATRE Brisbane's home of improv & sketch comedy

    Stan Wells developed the "Clap-In" style of longform improvisation here, later using this as the basis for his own theatre, The Empty Stage which in turn bred multiple troupes utilizing this style. The book has many examples of how improvisational theater games can increase communication skills and develop empathy. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Frontiers in Psychology. Alison Hodge.

    Well, to be capable of doing improvisation it is needed to know this subject.

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    But maybe the improvisation can damage the quality of speech; many people would speak without using beautiful words and deep reflections. Well, there are some secrets to become a good improviser. We will talk specifically about solos in this topic, but the concept is the same for all the other aspects of improvisation in music.

    Explaining this in an easy way, it is just to know the basic scales and to know how to identify the song tonality to do an improvisation. But in practice it is not just knowing scales and its tonalities, you have to create a solo with them.

    What is Improvisation?

    It looks obvious, but it is not. Nobody likes listening played scales that go up and down without dynamics. And how will a beginner in improvisation be able to do that? This is essential. The next step is taking these same phrases and making some little changes, trying to put your own ideas from the ideas in the phrases.

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    That urge can be sneaky too. It can manifest itself as a reply that's more concerned with why the user was wrong, rather than showing them that you understood their pain to begin with. There's absolutely a place for the former, but it should always come after the latter has been expressed. You are supposed to agree and then add something of your own.

    It's about guiding the user to the next step in the process, or maybe pointing out a potential pitfall that may be around the corner once they're able to move forward. Like Fey says, if you just respond with "yeah…", things aren't moving forward because the onus is back on the user to figure things out. This extends support interactions further when they inevitably ask about those next steps, a worse experience for them and more work for support staff.

    E Minor Sad Ballad Guitar Backing Track For Improvisation With Scales

    One of the best ways to go that extra step is in linking to documentation on those next steps to get a user to the end goal. Not only does it serve as a call to action so the user can get started on that right away, but it promotes self-service so that a user might discover future answers without needing to contact you. However, Yes AND is also about making yourself available, inviting the user to continue the conversation if they have further trouble, or to reach out again if they have a different issue.

    Along with giving users a call to action or next step, doing so adds up to a powerful combination of empowering the user while not making them feel like they're being pawned off to static documentation. Where are we? What are we doing here? In other words: Whatever the problem, be part of the solution. That person is a drag. In customer support we often carefully choose our words to avoid absolute answers, lest our word guarantees blow up in our faces at a later time if our fix didn't work, or if there was some confusion about wording that leads to a different interpretation.

    This isn't inherently bad, but Rule 3 reminds us that as the people responding to our users, we are the experts in the eyes of our users. If we hem and haw and give noncommittal answers, then who could possibly know the real truth? If you aren't as explicit as possible with your responses, it erodes trust in your support experience, and really your product as a whole So if you know the answer, say that clearly. If you don't know, say that, too, but also go the Say Yes AND route of telling the user you'll find the answer or point to where they can find it themselves.


    1. ongoing performance opportunities.
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    3. Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ (I Call to Thee, Lord Jesus Christ), No. 41 (from Das Orgelbüchlein), BWV639.
    4. Popular links?

    Take these words that are used to "hedge" in replies:.

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