10 Tips For Improvisation
One of the most important and useful techniques for any actor is improvisation. Knowing how to improvise can keep an actor sharp, creative, and on his feet. It can also be an exciting, enjoyable and liberating experience, especially since one can go beyond the limitations of a script. But what if you've never improvised? No worries, we got you covered. Here's a list of our top 10 Tips For Improvisation.
- Confidence. One of the most important tips for improvisation, whether you're a first-timer or a veteran, is to always remember to be confident. If your audience sees that you are anything but, that'll impact their experience in a bad way.
- Go with the flow. When improvising, make sure you're on the same page as the other performers. Don't jump the gun and try to change the topic or matter being discussed because you're aiming for laughs. Add to the conversation. Trying to do anything else will break up the continuity and the smoothness of the moment.
- Adapt to the moment. Sometimes things can go wrong. Someone can stumble on a sentence, forget a name, etc. Be clever and play into that moment. Sometimes improvisation is about reacting appropriately and quickly.
- Listen and react. An imperative tip for improvisation is to listen and react. It not only keeps everyone on the same page, but it allows actors to play off of one another.
- Eye contact. This may seem unimportant, but maintaining eye contact is essential. One, it shows your audience that you're invested in your performance, and again, that you're confident (and not looking around all over the place, at the ceiling, the floor, etc). It also shows your fellow talent that you're passionate and up to the task.
- Make sure to be active. Articulation is a big part of improvisation, but so is being active because it provides your audience with details about your character and allows you to add on to the person you're creating. For example, if your character keeps checking his watch, it can be assumed he's a timely person, or maybe he has to be somewhere. Wiping your shoulder maybe indicates you're a person of cleanliness.
- Build your character through references. Let your audience learn your character through references. This can be achieved through dialogue. If you're talking about another person, bring up a past experience you've had with the person that defines who they are which also lets viewers learn about your character as well.
- Respect. When improvising, do not ignore or block anyone's attempt to change the direction of the moment. If someone, for example, is looking to shift the conversation from a person to an event, do not decline on commenting on the event or back away from the effort of the other performer. It's disrespectful and will result in extreme awkwardness.
- Don't think long term. When the scene commences, do not pre-plan your character. Over the course of the scene, your character will grow and expand. There's no need to definitively establish your character from the start.
- Be consistent. A final tip for improvisation: Make sure you're consistent. If you're character likes the color red, make sure he still likes the color later on. Simple details are important, and if the character has inconsistencies, it'll make you look unprofessional and unqualified, and your character unappealing.