Can You Come Out and Play?

Chelley’s Improv Rules

The beauty of improv is that it’s play for grown ups. Every improviser is trying to remember how to play. When we’re a child playing comes naturally. We don’t edit ourselves. We don’t think about how much we suck. We’re just playing. It’s only once we’re judged for doing something right or wrong that we begin editing ourselves. Suddenly, our rules that we just made up are stupid or we’re wearing the wrong dress and saying the wrong words. So how do we get our adult brains to wipe away all those worries, all those doubts and just play?

As adults we have to intellectualize this because it no long comes naturally. First, be willing to fail. Without failure we don’t learn. It’s a necessity to move forward in life and even more of one for improv. Because without the willingness to fail you’ll never take risks which is number two on our list. You must take risks in order to learn and grow as an improviser and, hell, as a human being.

Probably one of the most difficult things for us, as adults, is to commit. This third rule, I think, is the most important because even if we play the game wrong, say something that “doesn’t work” if we commit we make it work. The audience will come along with us if we’re committed to everything we’re doing be it physicality or the alphabet game.

The fourth rule is incredibly difficult for many adults because we’ve been taught that everything worth doing has to be work. But if we have fun then the work that comes out stays with us longer and we don’t even realize we’ve learned something. Also, doesn’t life seem so much better when we’re having fun? Don’t take yourself so seriously because if you do then you won’t want to go back to our second rule and take risks.

Energy, energy, energy is rule number five. Haven’t you ever watched a group of children playing and wondered how they have so much energy? True we don’t have those energy level reserves any longer but it doesn’t mean we can’t have spurts. If you have energy, physical, vocal, emotional, that audience will, once again, follow you anywhere. Nobody’s interested in seeing a monotone, emotionless, incredibly still person on stage.

And finally, rule number six, be a good sport. Remember that kid on the playground who complained about everything? He wanted to change the rules to his liking. And he told on you for everything. Remember him? Did you like playing with him? No, nobody did. The same goes for improv. Take things in stride. If you get something wrong let it go and continue on. Commit to your mistakes and learn from them. But over all STAY IN PLAY!

About Chelley Pyatt

Chelley has been doing improv since November of 2008. She has learned a lot and is planning to learn a lot more. Chelley is a current Merlin Works Improv Singing 301 student and blogger

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