1. What’s Improvisation
Improv is a state of being and creating action without pre-planning. As Wikipedia states, improvisation is the practice of acting, dancing, singing, playing musical instruments, talking, creating artworks, problem solving, or reacting in the moment and in response to the stimulus of one’s immediate environment and inner feelings.
This can result in the invention of new thought patterns, new practices, new structures or symbols, and/or new ways to act.
When it comes to improvisation, a lot of people immediately think of comedy. And that’s true, improv does help one to be funnier and learn better comedic timing. However, that’s not the only reason actors should work on their improvisational skills.
When someone is good at improv, they know how NOT to stay within the confines of their mind. Improvisation is the first enemy of self-consciousness. When you master this skill, you’ll learn how to get out of your head, not over-think things and just be, react, act. That is when your scenes will start coming to life.
The great Sanford Meisner loved spontaneity and improvisation.
2. It’s Not Just About the Comedy
Not only is improv a helpful skill, it’s even a necessary one if you want to increase your chances of getting auditions. Aside from all the good things that improvisation training brings to your performance, acting industry people highly value actors with great improv training on their acting resumes.
Ability to improvise well is a number one requirement for commercial auditions. If that’s the road you’re starting on, or trying to pursue, consider improvisation classes to be your first priority. Very few casting directors will invite someone without improv training to do commercial audition as these shoots are highly improvised.
3. Benefits of Improvisation Training
Here’s what you learn in improv classes:
- Learn how to audition better
- Get out of your head and act
- Let go of your self-consciousness
- Widen your emotional comfort zone
- Learn to be present in the moment
- Develop a natural flow of the dialogue
- It’s great for commercial auditions and work
- Learn to take risks and not be afraid to fail
- Learn how to listen and react better
- …and a lot more
4. Where To Train
Here’s the thing: many people are afraid to take any sort of improvisation training for the reason of not being able to perform as well as others. Those are the people who need improv the most! If you’re one of them, get over yourself and start fixing this flaw.
Every city has professional and amateur groups and classes where they play improv games. Some people do it for fun, as a way to relax and have a laugh, and others — actors and comedians — take it to another level. Of course it’s all very similar.
If you can afford additional acting classes, then do the necessary research and get yourself into one of the top improv schools in your town. They will teach you all the basics of this craft and then release you into the wild: to perform, perform, perform. That is the only way you get better with improvisation.