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Many people, however, make a distinction between ad-libbing and improvising. The British director Mike Leigh makes extensive use of improvisation in the creation of his films, including improvising important moments in the characters' lives that will not even appear in the film. This Is Spinal Tap and other mockumentary films of director Christopher Guest are created with a mix of scripted and unscripted material and Blue in the Face is a comedy directed by Wayne Wang and Paul Auster created in part by the improvisations during the filming of Smoke.

Some of the best known American film directors who are noted for their use of improvisation in their work with actors are John Cassavetes , Robert Altman , Christopher Guest and Rob Reiner. In Canada, the series Train 48 was improvised from scripts which contained a minimal outline of each scene, and the comedy series This Sitcom Is Not to Be Repeated incorporated dialogue drawn from a hat during the course of an episode. The American show Reno ! In the field of the psychology of consciousness , Eberhard Scheiffele explored the altered state of consciousness experienced by actors and improvisers in his scholarly paper Acting: William Farthing in The Psychology of Consciousness comparative study, actors routinely enter into an altered state of consciousness ASC.

In the growing field of Drama Therapy , psychodramatic improvisation, along with other techniques developed for Drama Therapy , are used extensively. The "Yes, and" rule has been compared to Milton Erickson 's utilization process and to a variety of acceptance-based psychotherapies. Improv training has been recommended for couples therapy and therapist training, and it has been speculated that improv training may be helpful in some cases of social anxiety disorder. Improvisational theatre often allows an interactive relationship with the audience.


Improv groups frequently solicit suggestions from the audience as a source of inspiration, a way of getting the audience involved, and as a means of proving that the performance is not scripted. That charge is sometimes aimed at the masters of the art, whose performances can seem so detailed that viewers may suspect the scenes are planned. In order for an improvised scene to be successful, the improvisers involved must work together responsively to define the parameters and action of the scene, in a process of co-creation.

With each spoken word or action in the scene, an improviser makes an offer , meaning that he or she defines some element of the reality of the scene. This might include giving another character a name, identifying a relationship, location, or using mime to define the physical environment. These activities are also known as endowment. It is the responsibility of the other improvisers to accept the offers that their fellow performers make; to not do so is known as blocking, negation, or denial, which usually prevents the scene from developing.

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Some performers may deliberately block or otherwise break out of character for comedic effect—this is known as gagging —but this generally prevents the scene from advancing and is frowned upon by many improvisers. Accepting an offer is usually accompanied by adding a new offer, often building on the earlier one; this is a process improvisers refer to as "Yes, And Every new piece of information added helps the improvisers to refine their characters and progress the action of the scene. The unscripted nature of improv also implies no predetermined knowledge about the props that might be useful in a scene.

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Improv companies may have at their disposal some number of readily accessible props that can be called upon at a moment's notice, but many improvisers eschew props in favor of the infinite possibilities available through mime. In improv, this is more commonly known as 'space object work' or 'space work', not 'mime', and the props and locations created by this technique, as 'space objects' created out of 'space substance,' developed as a technique by Viola Spolin. Because improvisers may be required to play a variety of roles without preparation, they need to be able to construct characters quickly with physicality, gestures , accents , voice changes, or other techniques as demanded by the situation.

The improviser may be called upon to play a character of a different age or sex. Character motivations are an important part of successful improv scenes, and improvisers must therefore attempt to act according to the objectives that they believe their character seeks. Many theatre troupes are devoted to staging improvisational performances and growing the improv community through their training centers.

In addition to for-profit theatre troupes, there are many college-based improv groups in the United States and around the world.

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In Europe the special contribution to the theatre of the abstract, the surreal, the irrational and the subconscious have been part of the stage tradition for centuries. From the s onwards a growing number of European Improv groups have been set up specifically to explore the possibilities offered by the use of the abstract in improvised performance, including dance, movement, sound, music, mask work, lighting, and so on.

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These groups are not especially interested in comedy, either as a technique or as an effect, but rather in expanding the improv genre so as to incorporate techniques and approaches that have long been a legitimate part of European theatre. Some key figures in the development of improvisational theatre are Viola Spolin and her son Paul Sills , founder of Chicago's famed Second City troupe and originator of Theater Games , and Del Close , founder of ImprovOlympic along with Charna Halpern and creator of a popular longform improv format known as The Harold.

Shepherd was intent on developing a true "people's Theatre", and hoped to bring political drama to the stockyards. The Compass went on to play in numerous forms and companies, in a number of cities including NY and Hyannis, after the founding of The Second City.

A number of Compass members were also founding members of The Second City. In the s, Shepherd began experimenting with group-created videos. In the s, David Shepherd and Howard Jerome created the Improvisational Olympics, a format for competition based improv.

At IO, Halpern combined Shepherd's "Time Dash" game with Del Close's "Harold" game; the revised format for the Harold became the fundamental structure for the development of modern longform improvisation. In Jonathan Fox founded Playback Theatre , a form of improvised community theatre which is often not comedic and replays stories as shared by members of the audience.

The Groundlings is a popular and influential improv theatre and training center in Los Angeles , California. Acrobatics and singing were also used, as well as the lazzi special rehearsed routines that could be inserted into the plays…. First, the improvisational spirit of the commedia troupes, in which the actor would invent words and comic business lazzi to meet the occasion of the play and the audience he faced, encouraged a spontaneity in the action that has affected the writing and playing of Western comedy….

BBC Bitesize - GCSE Drama - Improvisation - Revision 1

Improvisation is of enormous importance in the process of training and also of performance. It teaches the actor to speak rather than to read his lines, and it breaks his unconscious adherence to conventional theatrical patterns of behaviour. Professional players who specialized in one role developed an unmatched comic acting technique, which contributed….

Genuine and feigned emotion In acting: Early works Western drama In dramatic literature: Into the 16th and 17th centuries. Help us improve this article!


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Explore the year a word first appeared. Dictionary Entries near improvisation improvident improvidentially improvisate improvisation improvisator improvisatore improvisatrice.

Improvisation at the train station in paris!

Time Traveler for improvisation The first known use of improvisation was in See more words from the same year. Kids Definition of improvisation. More from Merriam-Webster on improvisation Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with improvisation Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for improvisation Spanish Central: Translation of improvisation Nglish: Translation of improvisation for Spanish Speakers Britannica English: Translation of improvisation for Arabic Speakers Britannica.

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