How do I get better at improvising at acting school?
August 8, 2014 10:48 AM   Subscribe

I've began following my childhood dream and it's mostly going well and re-educating me about how to play :)...

By nature I'm pretty creative but I feel after a lot of serious adult stuff over the years that my imagination more often manifests in its capacity for worrying/conjuring up worse case scenarios than things beyond this. Improvisation, which I was good at as a kid makes me feel squirmy/exposed/stressed and I struggle to generate ideas. I sense I'm not the only one who feels like that in class. How can I work on this and embrace it more?
posted by tanktop to Media & Arts (3 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
my imagination more often manifests in its capacity for worrying/conjuring up worse case scenarios

Then why not use those? Those kind of things can be hilarious, or touching, or both.

To be real, there are two ways to do improv:

1) The way they tell you to do it: Go up there with a completely blank slate, start from absolutely nothing, build a scene with your partner or partners. The idea is that honesty will come from just letting go and being in the moment.

2) The way most performers actually do it: They have certain stock characters or ideas they like, are comfortable with, have done before, and feel like they look good doing. They'll "improvise" one of these 95% of the time, or find a way to twist the scene back to it, because they want to seem talented or funny, and they don't want the embarrassment of getting up there and having nothing, or trying something that doesn't work.

It's up to you which way you want to go, but the "real" way of doing improv is designed to make the performer uncomfortable and stressed, because it strips away all the preparation you'd normally do and puts you up there with nothing but trust in yourself and your partner.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:54 AM on August 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

People watch as much as possible. Some of my best work as both an actor and a writer came from when I was pulling from the absolutely bizarre stuff I used to see whenever I planted myself somewhere and just listened to people talk and interact. You develop this arsenal of memories to incorporate that can be really satisfying. I tended to focus only on what lent itself to comedy, but YMMV.
posted by Hermione Granger at 11:28 AM on August 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

I haven't been to acting school, but one of my improv teachers mentioned that in acting school improv instruction was not that in depth. Because, you know, the focus was acting.

So, consider taking a class or two at an improv school/theater. The classes will be designed to deal with exactly this kind of problem.
posted by Renegade Duck at 1:52 PM on August 8, 2014

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