If take a moment and just look around there is improvisation everywhere. We as human beings improvise every moment depending on the given circumstances and time. What is improvisation in drama? It is same but in drama, there are imaginary circumstances and characters, which churns out moments that where not planned, they just happen.
In improvisation, most of the inspiration come from your co actors. As an actor, you react to what happens in scene or on stage and sometimes, your co-actor might surprise you with something which was not planned, and when you react to that surprise doing, something new happens. This are your improvised scenes. Check out this video of improvisation in drama movies to get better idea on improvisation.
You must understand, improvisation is most important thing to have in your armory as an actor. A known acting coach on improvisation and author of Book on Acting: Improvisation Technique for the Professional Actor in Film, Theater, and Television, Stephen book believes that if he has to make choice between an extremely talented actor with wide emotional range and an actor not so talented but has good improvisational skills, he would choose an actor who has improvisational skill.
Most of the popular actors who are known for their acting, are good with improvisation.
Why improvisation in drama is important?
Have you ever seen a scene in which you were mesmerized by something an actor did or your saw something, it was completely different but was refreshing to watch.
Most of the time these kinds of moments are result of improvisation. They feel natural and organic. Actor was in the moment and action was truthful.
To understand the importance of improvisation in drama you have to understand what you can achieve using improvisation:
- Improvisation is the best tool, if you want to achieve organic and truthful performance
- It keeps the performance on its toes; in other words, it keeps the actor in moment.
- During improvisation, actor is more aware of the surrounds, and circumstances.
- Actor is not into his or her head, like thinking about the next line or action.
- It brings out things which actor might not have thought during the preparation. Sometimes a different perspective also comes out of improvisation which makes the scene interesting.
There are plenty of advantages if you use improvisation in drama. Here, only few are listed but, if you practice improvisation you would know how it brings out best performance out of you. So, if haven’t thought about using improvisation in your performance, give it a try.
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Next, question arises is how do you improve improvisation? Well, almost all method acting coaches will spend quite a long-time teaching improvisation. They feel it is most important aspect of acting. There quite few basic exercises that you can use to improve upon improvisation.
Improves exercises can only be done in a group, so make sure you invite few of your actor friends for these exercises.
There are hundreds of exercises, but assuming you are beginner, you might want to start with something basic. To start out, you can do this basic exercise which require only two or one person.
People required: Two
Direction: This is the most basic exercise which requires only two people and others can watch. One actor is speaker and other is translator. Speaker speaks gibberish. It has to be silly sounds, but he or she must be truthfully saying something. Translator has to translate what the other actor said, in your native language, that everyone understands. Translator must try to listen from all his sense, look at the speaker’s gestures, tone, expression and try to guess what he is try to say.
Important note: Translator must immediately translate and not think about some sort of story. It has to be spontaneous.
Advantage of this exercise: This exercise help actors listen through all their senses, which is key aspect when it comes to improvisation in drama. This also keeps the actor out of his or her head. Even, the made the story that’s translated is spontaneous which could be really useful when improvising dialogues.
People Required: Two
Direction: As the name sounds, one has to say yes and fill in the blanks. For instance, you start this exercise something like this. One actor says. “your shirt looks good.” The other actor responds by saying, “yes and I bought it for you.” The other might reply, “yes and I would like to buy from you.” The other might respond by saying, “yes and I would have more shirts like this for you.” Actor must always start with yes and fill in the blanks. Try to stretch the scene as long as possible, without coming to a conclusion. Never come to the conclusion, because it will end the scene immediately.
Advantage of this exercise: This exercise helps develop sense of support for the co-actor. This is one of the most popular improve exercises just because it shows how improvisation works if both actors are in flow.
People required: One
Direction: Its nothing but you have to sit one place and try to discover object out of space. Mind you this exercise require knowledge of sense memory. You have to mime all the objects that you discover out of space. For example, you are sitting on chair(you can take actual chair, rest are all imaginary made out of space ). Feel your self there is coffee table in front of you. Now you discover there is coffee mug on it. You pick it up and drink it. Then you discover there is lighter in your pocket. You take it out and then you can discover there is pack of cigarette on the table, you pick one and light it. So, on and on. Try to discover as many as possible. But make sure it fits the location you are using. You cannot have pressure cooker if you are using drawing as location or a laptop if you are in bathroom.
Advantage of this exercise: This exercise will help you be aware of the props that are accessible to you during a scene. You will be able to create real life activities which would make scene even more interesting. Again, actor will be in the state of doing, hence he will be out of his head.
This are more than enough to give a feel of improvisation, as you learn more about the method acting, you will learn more advanced exercises of improvisation in drama. In order to learn advanced exercise, enroll for a improvisation class or go to an acting coach, who can teach you and guide through the process of improvisation.