5 Improvisational Acting Techniques That Will Make You A Better Actor

We’ve written about acting games, monologue tips, audition tips and actor marketing but what about improvisational acting?

Let’s get into it…

First off, what is improvisational acting?  Improvisation is the ability to ‘go off book’ (no script) and continue the scene’s truth as your character.  In other words, it’s thinking on your feet through spontaneity and being in the moment without missing a beat.

  1. AgreeTina Fey makes a good point about agreeing when working with another actor during improv.  There is nothing worse then working with an actor who is closed off.  The entire idea of improvisation is to work together and go on an exploration together and support one another.  Go with the flow!
  2. There Are No Mistakes – It’s improvisation, there shouldn’t be any logical limitations while going on your creative adventure. You want to stretch your wings and feel as though you have full reign to use your imagination as you so desire.  Don’t short change yourself, your scene partner or the audience because your are afraid of making an error.  Allow the so called mistakes to happen because that is exactly where the fun and surprising moments take place.  It takes courage and will power to let yourself go and make a damn fool of yourself if you must.
  3. Listen – Listening is so crucial to acting in general let alone improvisation.  You need to truly hear your partner and get insync with them. The life that unfolds between the two of you onstage, is what spills over into those that watch your work.  The more connected you are to the person you are working with, the stronger your communication will become.  This will help stimulate the both of you during the scene.  By listening, you are more receptive to capturing the gems your scene partner is giving you and more like to be in harmony together.  You don’t want to miss notes and the best way to avoid that is by truly listening.
  4. Don’t Overthink – Meisner was known for teaching actors through exercises how NOT to go to their heads and instead DO.  This applies to improvisation as well.   You don’t want to get too caught up in your head thinking about what to do next.  If you are really involved in the ongoings of the scene and ‘present’ with your scene partner, you won’t have time to go to your head. Improvisation is about ‘going with it’.
  5. Use Your Body – The more physical you can express yourself while doing improv, the better it will.  Not only will you find yourself becoming more involved in the act of doing but your scene partner will also connect more fully to you as well. Consistently working off one another is what makes improvisational acting so rewarding.

Let’s talk about something else as well….character improvisation.  There are some rehearsals where the actors will improvise the nature of an actual scripted scene together, in order to discover deeper nuances about their character and the circumstances of the scene.  Improvisation does play an interesting role within this context also, which is why it’s always a good idea to have a foundation in ad-libbing.

Find out more about acting games and exercises which have terrific improvisational aspects to them.

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Joseph Arnone

Joseph Arnone is a filmmaker and founder of Monologue Blogger.

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