Written by Administrator Gordon Hensley
Friday, 05 February 2010 03:13
What is Improvisation?
In a nut shell, improvisation is "making it up as you go along." We improvise daily in conversation, cooking, driving, and more. In creative drama and theatre, improvisation can include making up a scene, a conversation, a movement piece, or even a drawing. The possibilities are endless. Improvisation not only develops and polishes acting and social skills, but it provides an opportunity to practice real life in a safe environment.
Why should my students use Improvisation?
Improvisation builds confidence in decision making, ensemble, and self esteem. Improvisation encourages creative thinking and can help in becoming better at interviews, meetings, and surviving in the professional world.
Where does Improvisation fit into my curriculum?
Anywhere! Everywhere! Many areas are accessible through improvisation because you are making the content up as you go along. You may choose to improvise a scene about a math concept, a silly way that scientists came up with a chemical symbol, or act out a historical event based on a loose plot.
How do I start?
Begin by introducing your students to creating text little by little. Once they are comfortable playing in small groups or in short bursts, take on bigger tasks such as improvising a scene in from of the class. Not every student will reach this comfort level... but that's OK! Also remember to clearly outline your expectations so they are met by the improvisation. Start with using the body, voice, and imagination. When you reach the actual improvisation level, you may want to review play-creation process, or plot structure (who, what, when, where, how, beginning, middle, ending, conflict, agreeing with your partners, environmental details, etc.). You may also include a rehearsal!
Here are some obstacles that you may want to address in using improvisational activities with your students:
I can't quotient - fearing self, decision making, and performance
Risking - worrying about being able to make decisions that are worthy
Fear of Failure
Brain Freeze - not being able to think of content or responses
Mental agility - fearing mental flexibility and ability to create scenarios
Preconceiving - worrying about doing what everyone expects to see
Censoring - being able to make appropriate decisions quickly
What does Improvisation look like in a lesson plan?
Using Improvisation in a lesson may look something like this:
Review steps involved in building a character. Write these on the board as students answer them on their worksheets.
Who are you?
How old are you?
Where are you from?
Where are you going?
What do you want?
Why do you want it?
How do you move around? What does it look like?
How do you talk? What do you sound like?
Divide students into small groups of no more than four people.
Have students develop an improvisation ( a short scene made up on the spot) in their small groups based on a location you give them.
Locations may include:
A huge bowl of milk
Inside a washing machine
On a rollercoaster
In a jungle
On a pirate ship
In a parade
Prepare and rehearse a few times (for about 10 minutes)
Share group improvs with the class.
What educational standards are met by Improvisation?
National Theatre Standard and Benchmarks
Uses acting skills
Level 2 (Grade K-4)
Knows characters in dramatizations, their
relationships, and their environments
Uses variations of locomotor and non locomotor
movement and vocal pitch, tempo, and tone for
Assumes roles that exhibit concentration and
contribute to the action of dramatizations based on
personal experience and heritage, imagination,
literature, and history
Knows how to interact in improvisations
Level 3 (Grade 5-8)
Understands how descriptions, dialogue, and actions
are used to discover, articulate, and justify
Uses basic acting skills (e.g., sensory recall,
concentration, breath control, diction, body
alignment, control of isolated body parts) to develop
characterizations that suggest artistic choices
Invents character behaviors based on the
observation of interactions, ethical choices, and
emotional responses of people
Interacts as an invented character in improvised
and scripted scenes
Level 4 (Grade 9-12)
Understands the physical, emotional, and social
dimensions of characters found in dramatic texts
from various genres and media
Knows various classical and contemporary acting
techniques and methods
Develops, communicates, and sustains characters
that communicate with audiences in improvisations
and informal or formal productions