Improvisers act on impulse, and adjust to what is happening moment to moment.
Creative expression, free-thinking and sharp wit can only be found when we stop pre-judging ourselves. The ideas are there, but they can be hidden away because we filter our thoughts to appear 'normal', and overthink them. They need to come out of the closet, and be heard.
To release spontaneity, we have to unlock the box, harness the fear of failure, be happy to make mistakes, and ultimately relinquish control.
At School of Improv, we play games that stop us planning, get us out of our heads, into the present, and liberate our personality.
Associated Improv Terms: Association. Dis-association. Inner-critic. Self-censorship. Be Obvious.
Accept and Build
Improvisers have an open, positive mind-set. They are in a willing, supportive and co-operative mood.
They think 'Yes'. Listen first. Then respond.
When we create in improv, we accept what is offered to us by the other person, and build on it, brick by brick. In turn, they do the same. In simple terms, we take one idea, connect it to another, to create a new idea. Active listening is a key skill.
The players are in a place of agreement, even when the characters they portray are in conflict.
Saying 'Yes' gets us into glorious trouble. It is like we are constantly digging holes, finding a way of getting out of one, whilst digging another.
Associated Improv Terms: Yes-and. Yes-but. 50-50. Wimping. Blocking. Gagging. 3-7-10. Raising the stakes. If that is true, then this must be true. Over-accepting.
In Improv, an Offer is an idea that propels something to happen. It is a call to action.
Offers are there to help. Offers are gifts, to be accepted. They may come incrementally to organically build a scene, or suddenly tilt it in a new direction, without trashing what has gone before.
There are various types of offers. A Blind Offer is the simplest form, where an improviser fills a space on impulse and does something without any intention. An Open Offer is open ended. It may come with an intention, but is open to interpretation by the other player. A Direct Offer is a clear idea aimed to incite change. An In-direct Offer is suggestive. It may come as the seed of an idea to be re-incorporated later. The Magic Offer is when one improviser takes a throw-away statement from another and turns it into an offer.
Associated Improv Terms: Blind. Open. Direct. In-direct. Magic. Endowment. Gift. Promise. First Unusual Thing. Tilts. Re-incorporation. Call-backs. Blocking. Trashing.
If School of Improv was a restaurant, then Endowment would be our signature dish.
Endowment is a special kind of offer. It enriches the character, place or object and provides detail to engage curiosity and make the story interesting.
The improviser can endow themselves, the space and general things, but when one improviser endows another, it is the most generous offer they can give.
Bestowing another improviser with a name, job, emotion, trait, talent, history, want, weakness are all examples of endowment.
A great endowment is the gift that lights the other's eyes up, transforms characters, and brings stories to life for audiences.
Associated Improv Terms: Offers. Gifts. Adopting. Pimping.
The platform is the context. The building blocks of the scene. The flexible foundation that supports what will happen next, and springboard the story.
Typically, improvisers work in an empty space. There may be a few chairs and the odd table, but generally there's no set, props or costumes. It is up to them to create the illusion of this for their audience - and each other.
Great improv may appear to be a psychic act, but there's usually at least two separate brains trying to figure out what on earth is going on with the other one!
Where is the story set? Who are the main characters involved at this time? What are they doing there? By working together to find solutions to these problems, the story begins to emerge organically.
Associated Improv Terms: Who-What-Where? Base Reality. Routines. Object work. Environment. Relationship. Activity. Show don't tell.
In Improv, Status is about dominance and submission - NOT class hierarchy.
The higher the status, the more dominant the character, the more confident person, the more personal space they command. In contrast, the lower the status, the more submissive etc.
Status affects how we behave and interact with each other in different situations. Our relationship to the space we are in, and who we are with there. How we see ourselves, how we see others, how they see us. The way we walk, stand, sit, talk within a circle of friends for instance, compared to entering a new group. The amount of eye contact we hold, our use of voice, body language and overall demeanour.
Status transactions are key to finding the conflict in drama, and the funny in comedy.
In life, exploring status is a learning curve in self-awareness and perception, and can greatly improve self-confidence.
Associated Improv Terms: Dominance. Submission. Oppression. Equality. Pecking-order. Clowning. Master and Servant.
We play lots of fun games at School of Improv. Social, un-competitive, entertaining games. 'Structured' play designed to challenge us, help us solve problems together and in doing so, new skills emerge.
'The Game' is different. This is 'without structure'. It is discovered.
When improvisers find the Game in a scene, they are in sync with each other. They are having fun with something that's come in left-field. It could arrive suddenly or evolve organically.
The Game may come from a mistake or an error in logic. It could be a verbal or physical Game, or a kind of pattern of behaviour. Something underlying to the scene that the audience don't really know they are watching, and the improvisers are just allowing to happen and grow.
The Game puts Improvisers bang in the moment, relaxed, creative, connected, and in flow.
Associated Improv Terms: Flow. Kinetic. Synchronicity.