How do you practice improv if it’s all made up on the spot?

You can’t really learn improv, can you?

Of course you can! Spontaneity, creativity, and listening are just like any other skill–you can practice them and get better. It’s like jazz improvisation.

You would never just assume jazz musicians either “have it” or they don’t. Great musicians, regardless of talent, spend a heck of a lot of time in rehearsal.

When jazz musicians are practicing, do they work on exactly what they will play in performance? Not really. They practice working with their instrument, communicating with other musicians, understanding different song structures and all sorts of things that make their improvised performances even better.

Or think of it like a soccer practice: you run drills, get in shape, build ball skills, work as a team and scrimmage so that when game day comes, you are ready for whatever happens on the field.

It’s the same in improvised theatre workshops; we create a safe environment and play exercises that develop improv skills such as awareness, flexibility, ensemble, and spontaneity. So when it show time comes, we’re ready.

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About Shana Merlin

Merlin Works is the brainchild of Shana Merlin: improviser, teacher, and performer. Since 1996, she’s been leading classes that stretch people’s imaginations, push them out of their comfort zones, and make them laugh out loud for hours at a time.

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