Improvisation is usually a word that scares a good number of people. From feedback I’ve gotten over the years, fear of “being funny” is one of the main qualms, followed by “getting it wrong” or “I don’t think that fast.”
I’ll let you in on a secret that is one of the first things I tell a new group I’m working with: You improvise every day of your life. We don’t wake up, go through our day, talk to others, and end the day with a rehearsed script or with one in our hands. Improvisation is FIRST all about communications: Something is Said > You Deeply Listen >You Respond To What was Said (whether verbally or physically..nodding, etc). You stay in that moment, not thinking you know where someone is going, not judging what you think they will say based on past referencing.
All communication that is not planned out to the Nth degree is improvised.
We also improvise when something does not go as planned, or a new element is added unexpectedly. Well, you would improvise if you aren’t susceptible to giving up, throwing a temper tantrum (I’m looking at you, adults, not kids), or not trying any new idea.
- A Surgeon has a patient on the table: something is missing on the tray that he/she needs desperately. Should they give up, or do whatever they can with what they can, to save the patient’s life?
- A Teacher has their lesson plan solid for the day. The students/principal/whatever do not have that lesson plan planned, and the session is not running as planned. Give up and cry? Well, yeah, sometimes..but, you may still have hours to go before the road home is available. You modify on the spot. That is improvisation.
- A Speaker is giving the Keynote address. The index cards fall into a pitcher of water, ruining the cards. NO time to get a laptop, the guests are waiting for whatever is next. If they know their stuff, they improvise. A lot of sweating, but..they improvise.
So..put your own storyline in place of one of those (Parents, etc) and YOU DO IMPROV!
Forget about the funny, or the fast. Think and move on, and saying YES to new things or ideas can sometimes become more than a roadblock in your life. It could lead to great things.
Game structures, which is what many of you see on TV or live Improv shows, can be learned. That is only one aspect of what improvisation can mean. There are many other aspects of improv that it can lend itself to. I’ll talk about the one that affects me the most:
Tomorrow: The Improvisational Storyteller.