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April. 18, 2012 by Paul Halley

Improving our Improvisation Skills...

The Players

The Play Group Theatre is now launching a master class series called “The Works.” On April 1st, 2012, PGT’s own master teachers, Steve and Erin, led a workshop devoted to improvisation, one of my favorite theatrical practices.

When I came to PGT I discovered that structure is important for every actor. It guides each individual to make fun, unique decisions. Contrary to popular opinion, improvisation is not a free-for-all. There is structure!

One structural component I learned in the workshop was the idea of “yes, and…” Although the phrase doesn’t need to be used out loud, it is used to keep an improvised conversation or scene real and exciting. By using the two-word phrase, I will accept the circumstances that my scene partner gives me, and continue the scene by adding more information.

When the group understood this piece, we were able to have some fun! We played several different improvisational games – some of which I’ve never heard.

Surprisingly, my favorite game was the activity to find Lucinda the Rat while two people were blindfolded. I say “surprisingly” because I initially did not understand what this game had to do with improvisation. Then it hit me… Improvisation forces you to make choices. When one of the students was blindfolded, she made a choice as an improviser to stay calm and alert. That student ended up finding Lucinda.

Because I am a new student at PGT, I don’t always initially understand the exercises that are used in a class. However, I can always trust that the directors and teaching artists at PGT will use their activities to help unleash and improve each student’s skills.

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