There's a purple elephant flying towards us!
...and he is about to land!
Yes, and he is about to land in the quicksand.
Yes, and now we need to pull him out.
Yes, and how about we all grab a branch...
This is a common improvisation warm-up that we play in acting classes. It's called "Yes, and.."
Every warm-up includes improvisation in my acting classes in Orlando.
Whether you are an amateur or a professional, improvisation exercises can help every actor stay at the top of their game if they full engage themselves and push past their creative blocks.
Why should an actor do improvisation?
Improvisation helps eliminate creative blocks.
Simple improvisation games can loosen up the creative soul that is often bound up and frozen with fear. Actors can activate their right brain, the creative side, while they "play" and have fun! An actor who does not have a script in their hand has to push past the "blocks" in their head. Yes, some of us are "blockheads" like Charlie Brown himself. 🙂
The more actors do these exercises on a consistent basis, the more free they are to grow to just create. I've seen actors go from stiff and calculated, to relaxed and free in a matter of a few weeks! It's quite remarkable to see the confidence that actors gain in their creative choices after a bit of practice.
Improvisation teaches listening skills.
Once an actor is free and spontaneous with their creative ideas, the next step is learning to listen. An actor can't do good improvisation with a partner without listening well. You have to be able to listen and play off of what you are given. In an improvised scene if an actor thinks too hard about the next line they need to say all the time, and doesn't listen to their partner, the scene will go downhill fast.
Every actor must listen with their eyes and ears and give back something. This brings me to the next benefit of why I am adamant about doing improvisation in all of acting classes that I teach in Orlando.
Improvisation teaches building truthful relationships.
Let's go back to the purple elephant sinking in quicksand....The number one improvisation rule of "yes, and." Actors need to learn to never reject anything their partner gives them. If their partner says, "There's a purple elephant in the room sinking in quicksand, then they have to essentially say "yes, and let's pull him out!" What better way to build a relationship immediately than to say "yes" to everything they say to you! Both actors have to live in the truth of the moment together. If there's a problem to solve, then they solve it - together. They can't ignore each other's cues, or the scene will fall flat or just be completely boring!
These are three foundational skills for all good acting onstage and off. Most actors who learn these three skills in acting classes will infuse it into their acting with a script.
Actors who are good at improv are nailing it!
They are booking work over and over again. Getting cast over and over again.
Directors love to work with actors who can improvise and bring creative ideas to their character work.
Do you want to take your acting skills to a new level?
All acting classes always include improvisation!
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