Film Books & Links
Learning about improvisation can help.
One word of warning -- there is no such a thing -- improvisation. Everything in theatre (life) is improvization.
The moment improvisation is gone, there is no theatre on stage.
You read about improvisation, you the task of non-scripted performance.
Improvisation is a part of working on everything -- monologue, scene, play. Not is single monologue in my classes goes without a test on improvisation. After a read-through and homework I ask actors to put away their pages; I know that they don't remember the lines, I want to see what they do remember, what do they understand.
You see, actors shouldn't memorize their texts before they can pass the improv test. Test on the essence of the scene -- improvisation make it obvious.
Forget the words! Is there anyhting take place? What is the event? Who are they, the characters? How do they walk?
This is about acting, not reading.
Improvisation is merciless. Most of the time they are lost.
They float away, they bring more and more words into it... time to go back to the test, there are better words there.
We try again later. We have to, because the show is nothing not "improvision" from the public's point of view -- for the first time for them and for you on stage!
Improv is not style, it's METHOD.
Keith Johnstone's IMPRO FOR STORYTELLERS
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SummaryImpro: Improvisation and the Theatre by Keith Johnstone
* one act fest
Improvisation for the Theater: A Handbook of Teaching and Directing Techniques (Drama and Performance Studies) by Viola Spolin, Paul Sills (Paperback) This new edition of a highly acclaimed handbook, last published in 1983 and widely used by theater teachers and directors, is sure to be welcomed by members of the theater profession. Spolin, who died in 1994, developed her improvisational techniques of using "game" exercises while teaching with the WPA Recreational Project in Chicago. Editor Sills, her son and founder of the Second City Theater, here updates over 200 classic exercises and adds 30 new ones. The creative group work and games, which can be used with all levels and ages of performers, and workshop techniques that enhance performers' natural abilities and intuition are all clearly explained. Also included are useful definitions of theater terms and a glossary of side-coaching phrases. Libraries with older editions will want this excellent update. Highly recommended for all theater arts collections.
Tim Sheppard (Bristol, England) - Not many practical manuals are also fun to just read, but this one is - funny, incisive, witty, philosophical and more. It is tremendously useful in many ways. I'm involved in applying impro, but not for Theatre Sports or comedy impro, yet this book is invaluable. My only annoyance is that it should be called Storytelling for Improvisors instead. If you are a storyteller hoping to learn how to improvise stories, this book will not address that directly for you, although if you absorb all the insight you'll get a lot of practical help. Johnstone's comments and analysis are very thought provoking, and reveal a great deal about human nature and the way our minds (and inhibitions) work. Any psychologist could learn a lot here too. If you are after a bumper book of games, go no further - this details a large number, but also with expert advice on how to teach and run the games, including warnings about all the variations that don't work.
Auditions are improvisations by settings. You see, improv is always there as long as it is live. What do we need for any improvisation? First -- a situation. Second -- a character.Mikado
Originally, I planned to have a list of books on auditions. There are many of them, very few I found useful. Auditions are your experience, go through many and you will learn. I rather stay with the books on the craft of acting, but not on "how to get a job."
In fact, I am working on my own textbook and this website is a part of this work. I hope by doing the webbing, placing more of my texts from the hard drive, I can "naturally" arrive to the CD/Book.
Photos on all book pages are from my most recent production of The Mikado.
The book-pages are new and I am not sure how they work, who visits them and why. I put them on in order to avoid the usual questions about "what should I read" and "where can I find it" -- search, explore and read!
Theater Games for the Classroom: A Teacher's Handbook
The Young Actor's Book of Improvisation : Dramatic Situations from Shakespeare to Spielberg : Ages 7-11
by Sandra Caruso, Susan Kosoff
Impro : Improvisation and the Theatre
Mask Improvisation for Actor Training & Performance : The Compelling Image
Acting Out : The Workbook : A Guide to the Development and Presentation of Issue-Oriented, Audience-Interactive, Improvisational Theatre
Biomechanics & Improv:
1. An absence of superfluous, unproductive movements;
3. the correct positioning of the body’s centre of gravity
Through these requirements of a worker, similar rules for the actor were developed. The actor now needed to be a supremely, physical human being with the ability to habitualize movements of all types into the body everyday. Meyerhold was after this rhythm, this kinetic energy which kept the revolution alive. Only, there is a rhythm individual to each character. And, when put together, the rhythms combine into a symphony propelling the revolution.
Not only were the requirements of the worker transferred to that of the actor, the actor was now forced to embody extreme efficiency—similar to the idea of Taylorism.(scientific organization of labour, industrial time-and-motion study). The art had a certain function; and time could not be wasted on psychological development, or petty items to hide the essential nature of the actor (such as make-up and decorative costumes). Actors were to be workers, in uniforms, exploring their physical limits and achieving physical competence through a "true eye, sense of balance, and the ability to sense at any given moment the location of his centre of gravity."(Braun 199)
Rebelling against Stanislavsky and his ‘authentic emotions’, Meyerhold was developing the method of building the character from the outward inner.
"By correctly resolving the nature of his state physically, the actor reaches the point where he experiences the excitation(the realization in feelings, movements and words a task which is prescribed externally) which communicates itself to the spectator and induces him to share in the actor’s performance."(Braun 199)
... Hence, to achieve all of this, one must go through much training in physical activities. "Meyerhold constructed a set of 16 etudes as the basis of biomechanics. These etudes were chosen from an eclectic range of sources, including the circus, Chinese and Japanese theatre, and sport, and they formed the basis of his extended movement vocabulary. The etudes were sequences of precise muscular movements intended to evoke particular emotions in the performer. This process attempted to systematize the kinesthetic relationship between outer movement and inner feeling, to enable actors to experience this relationship, and to train them to control it"(Britannica).
Ultimately, "it was felt that this new acting technique, which involved groups of actors, would eventually facilitate harmonic interaction of large groups off stage; thus these plays were to have been the first step in the creation of a future mass theatre."(Kolesnikov 90)
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