An Invitation to Improvise

Inside us all, there is a powder keg of untapped creativity ready to burst forth into expression – be it writing, cooking, dancing, gardening, singing. The creative act lights up a new way of looking at things, giving life fresh pleasure and meaning.

You are about to begin an exciting journey into the wonderful world of creative drama, in which you can become anyone, anywhere, anytime – through the magic of improvisation.

Players spanning virtually all age levels… have commented on the tremendous benefits yielded – losing one’s inhibitions, building confidence through teamwork, developing freedom to take creative risks and receiving valuable training in play-making.

Whether it is practiced onstage, in the classroom or during the process of daily living, the goals of improvisational drama are essentially the same – to become more in touch with the body and the senses, to express and communicate to others the untapped creative potential of the human imagination and to expand and deepen an awareness of the ordinary as well as the fantastic things in life.

Excerpted and adapted from Let’s Improvise: Becoming Creative, Expressive & Spontaneous Through Drama by Milton E. Polsky (1998).

Exercise: The Gibber-view – For three players: one interviewer, one celebrity being interviewed and one interpreter. The interviewer asks questions in English and the celebrity answers in gibberish, with the interpreter “translating” in between. The celebrity and interpreter use inflection, gesture and expression to communicate without using real words. The interpreter and interviewer get creative with the situation and the questions. This is an exercise for listening, creativity and communication.

Exercise: The Mirror – Two or more players sit or stand facing one another, making eye contact. Player 1 begins to slowly make a facial expression or movement that Player 2 will imitate or “mirror” exactly. At some point, Player 2 will transform the expression or movement, make it her own, and then Player 1 will begin imitating or “mirroring” back. This is an exercise for concentration, generosity and self-awareness.

For further consideration
–   What are some of the challenges of improvising and thinking on your feet?
–   In the exercises where you weren’t speaking (or weren’t speaking English), how did you communicate with the other players?
–   In Circle Mirror Transformation, the Creative Drama class gets to know each other through the acting exercises and, then, in personal conversation. How did these exercises help you (or hinder you) in getting to know each other better?