If you’ve ever seen improvised theatre, you’ve probably wondered how the performers do it. Unlike scripted theatre, improv shows are completely unplanned and spontaneous. The performers improvise the actions and story lines, and the audience is left to guess what they’re going to experience next. It can be quite comical or harrowing, depending on the performers’ skills. But what exactly is Improv?
The most basic rule of improv is “yes, and.” This simply means that when your partner says something, you must agree with them and add to their ideas. The purpose of this rule is to help you establish the plot and characters of the scene, while also avoiding negation. The more you practice, the better you’ll become. But remember: you’re not a professional yet! The first steps to learning how to improvise are important, but there’s no need to rush into a scene.
Improv is a fun way to develop self-expression, creativity, and discovery. Improv is ultimately about connecting to other people. Everyone involved is working towards something bigger than themselves. While stand up comedy audiences are mostly voyeuristic, improv audiences are engaged and a part of the magic. Most audience members are stoically praying that they don’t become part of the show. Nevertheless, there are several ways to learn how to do improv and make it a success in your professional life.
While short-form improv requires actors to create a storyline on the spot, long-form improv is more scripted. A scene consists of several scenes tied together, each of which informs the next. This form of improv is often seen in television shows, commercials, and feature films, where the actors create scenes on the spot. While Harrison Ford made an excellent character choice based on a script, Steven Spielberg decided to let improv sculpt his film.