Improvisational theater, or improv, is a form of theater where everything is made up on the scene. No scripts, no preparation. Actors usually get a suggestion from the audience and based on that suggestion they create a series of scenes and characters. Although improv is all spontaneous, improv actors do follow general rules and guidelines to direct their collaboration on the scene.
I started doing improv for more than 2 years ago. I wasn’t sure I could do it as I didn’t have any theater education or skills, but in reality everyone can do improv. I became part of a Copenhagen-based improv group, called ImproKlinikken (The Improv Clinic). We are 6 very active people from different ages, occupations, and backgrounds, who meet every week to practice improv and improve ourselves. Furthermore, we perform shows, mainly in Copenhagen, at least once a month.
Improv has become a part of my life, a mindset, a lifestyle. I use it in my work, especially in conjunction with Agile projects, so you will find some posts related to that in my blog. I often do workshops with friends and colleagues where I demonstrate how improv guidelines can shape better team spirit and collaboration. Here are some of the most important techniques used in improv:
- Embrace failure as a way to accelerate high performance. In improv there are no errors. Everything is used to create something – a special trait for your character or to add details to the situation. As long as you involve it in your scene-work, no one will even think about it being an error.
- Listen, listen, listen. Yes, listen! Improv teaches you to be a good listener. This is the only way to understand what your teammate is telling you. You are alone on the scene and your task is to create a scene out of one suggestion. The only way to do this is to play together. In improv you give gifts to each other as you help each other to define an undefined scene.
- Foster a “yes, and” approach to guide you in the uncertainty. After listening carefully to your teammate, it is your turn to send him a gift. You do this by accepting everything that he said and add more details to it. This way you create a unique work by combining parts of each other’s ideas.
If you got hooked by improv, don’t hesitate and go out to find a local group! I already managed to persuade few friends to do that. Or if you already are in the improv world, just write me and say hey [at] boyan.io 🙂