So regular readers will know I’m mad about Improv. I love doing anything related to improv, be it teaching, performing or watching. While improv is in its infancy in terms of exposure in Ireland, we are getting there!
There are endless benefits of improvisation, some of which I have listed below.
In our daily lives:
* Boosts and improves confidence
* Opens up our creative and spontaneous selves
* Improves our ability to public speak
* Improves how we communicate
* Helps us to think on the spot
* Polishes our social skills
* Opens our mind to being open to the challenges of daily life.
* Turns our fear of change and new things into an excitement.
* Teaches us that its ok to make mistakes
* Gives us a positive outlook on life
* All of the above!
* Improves how we develop characters
* Empowers our ability when performing in plays/shows
* Develops our acting skills further
* Excellent method of teaching status
For our work lives:
* Again, all of the above!
* Develops our leadership skills
* Enhances our team building and relationship management abilities
* Brainstorming becomes second nature
* We learn to embrace new ideas rather than resist them
This is just a sample of benefits but ultimately there are no boundaries with improvisation and how we can apply. Its as much a life skill as it is an art form. One of the most important concepts of improvisation is that of “Yes and…”. The concept of saying “yes” to new ideas regardless of what they are. Its how we approach scenes to progress things forward.
For example. Picture two improvisors in a scene and its goes something like this:
Mary: “Lets go on a picnic, its a lovely day”
John: “I’m tired and I don’t like being out in the sun”
What results with the above, is that John has killed Mary’s idea and we are left with 2 people in a scene with nothing to do. Mary’s confidence is impacted as her idea was shot down. But lets see what happens if John uses a “Yes and” approach:
Mary: “Lets go on a picnic, its a lovely day”
John: “That sounds like a great idea, I will bring the frisbee too”
No while there is nothing funny about John’s response in the second scene, John’s openness to Mary’s idea has suddenly opened up the possibilities of what could happen next. The sky really is the limit.
When it comes to doing improvisation there are 2 most common excuses people will use to try avoid doing it.
Excuses 1: “I’m not funny, improvisation looks hard”
If I had a euro for every time I heard this… With improvisation the comedy comes from the improv, not the performer. Teamwork and collaboration is crucial for improvisation and as long as improvisers follow the concepts, the laughter will ensue. Improvisation empowers us to reveal the humour we can create together.
Its fair to say that if someone is of the belief that they are funny before even trying improvisation, there is a risk that they could be the worst person in the world to improvise with. They will be so focused on trying to be funny, they will not be focusing on the collaboration or even listen to their fellow performers!
Very often, the comedy gold moments with improvisation are inspired unplanned moments. Often as improvisers we don’t really something we have said is funny until we hear the audience laughing! It can be very rewarding indeed!
Excuse 2: I’m terrified of performing or speaking in front of people
Another common excuse and to most of us, it seems justified. Some people are cut out for public speaking/performing, some are not? Isn’t that right? If you answer “no”, then you are breaking the “Yes and” rule of improv! Remember in an improv class, everyone is on the same playing field. Its not a competitive environment. We work together to achieve the common goal of improvising and we support one another. We build up our confidence in public speaking and performing and we support others doing it. While it may sound terrifying, its wildly liberating. And its easy! Really it is! Actors have lines to learn, accents to perfect, stage movements to remember. Improvisers don’t! Colin Mochrie said that with improv, you’re almost cheating your audience because you are making it up as you go along! And this leads us to another rule of improv, there is no way to get it wrong! So if there is no way of getting it wrong, then nothing we say will be the wrong thing to say!
So what have you got to lose?
I’m running a 6 week course on Thursdays commencing 22nd March on Improvisation and the course is aimed at anyone who is interested in improv, regardless of experience. The course is limited in size to ensure comfort and attention for all participants. Despite how terrifying improvisation is to many (including some of the world’s best actors!), I have never had a student not participate in an exercises or scene out of fear. In fact, it is often the fear that encourages them to take part!
For more details on the course, please click the link below or on the tab Improv Courses In Dublin
EDIT: Registration is now open for the next course which commences 11th June.