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Improvisation is a form of acting in which the plot, characters, and dialogue of a scene or story are made up in the moment. Improvisation or 'Improv' is spontaneous, entertaining, and fun!

Participating in improvisation activities can help improve self-confidence, develop social skills, and increase self-expression.

7 Tips for Improvisation

If you are a blind actor playing a sighted character, these tips will give you the confidence to move with grace and ease on stage.

Tip 1: Be Daring

Give up control and allow yourself to be changed by other players. Introduce your characters with energy — give them personality!

Tip 2: Say "Yes!"

In an improvisation, you need to relax and go with the flow.

Example: If another actor names you as his sister, you must accept your role and be his sister.

Tip 3: Say "Yes and..."

In addition to accepting your role, you as an actor must develop and add to the scene, complementing your partner.

Example: As the sister, you might remind your brother that he owes you for not telling on him to Mom and Dad.

Tip 4: Stay Away from Open-Ended Questions

Like "who are you?" You must participate in the scene to make it work; open-ended questions do not develop the story.

Tip 5: Don't Worry About Being Funny; Just Be Interesting

The harder you try not to be funny the more funny your scene is going to be.

Example: Exaggerated expressions, conflicts, and problems are funny.

Tip 6: Work Hard to Make Your Partner Look Good

Listen to each other and build on each other's ideas. You will look good if your partner looks good!

Tip 7: Tell a Story

As with any story, you need to set the scene, create the conflict, and solve the problem by listening to each other and building on your theme. Create original characters, not characters from TV, movies, or video games.

Improv Activities

Here are some activities to get you started in improvisation that can be done one-on-one or in groups. When you're done, talk about what worked and what you might want to practice for next time.

Opening Lines Activity

An easy introduction to improvisation, this activity needs only two participants or can be done as a group activity.

Dramatic Expressions Activity

Exploring various ways of expression helps to develop characterization. This activity can be done in any size group.

This activity was created by Janet Ulwick-Sacca for Great Expectations.

Popular Hand Gestures

A diagram of hands making different gestures. All clean!

Do you know what the thumbs up gesture means? How would you make a Time Out signal to let your coach know you needed to stop playing?

  • Air Quotes — Indicates irony; raise both hands to eye level and flex the index and middle fingers of both hands while speaking.
  • Blah-blah — Indicates talking too much; keep the fingers straight and together, held horizontal or upwards, while the thumb points downwards. Snap the fingers and thumb together like a mouth talking.
  • Time Out — Means to stop action; made with one hand pointing to the sky, and the other positioned flat on top of it in a 'T' shape.

Check out these popular hand gestures!

How People Communicate

Chart titled Elements of Personal Communication. 7% spoken words, 38% voice or tone, 55% body language

Most communication isn't done through words!

More Fun Improv Games

Improv4Kids has some great games that you can play to sharpen your improv skills!

Cartoon images says, Improv - be you, and anyone else you want to be.

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