Improv Corner – The Value of Focus

I always find that reading books can lead to articles in Improv Corner, especially when you read autobiographies by comedians or actors who do a lot in comedy as there is a lot of skills that they use that can be transferable in scenework. Today we re-visit Rainn Wilson’s book once again because something that he discusses makes a valid point that we can use in improv.

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Rainn Wilson autobiography excerpt

This section of his book is clearly talking about Rainn’s work on the Office US and getting used to improvisation and noticing the difference between acting a scene and improvising one. However it does make a really interesting point – the scenes that were improvised he found himself more focused on the scene around him and the actor. That is a really interesting and important point when it comes to looking at your own scenes.

Sometimes in improv, we can get wrapped up in the ideology of ‘improv’ and not the fact that we are creating a world around us and the way that it is done successfully is by working with an improv partner to make this happen. Occasionally in scenes, especially in front of an audience, we can accidentally leave an improviser behind as we end up creating our own worlds without letting others in. The whole factor of being on stage can be a reason for this but also it can create scenes that are a tad confused.

There are many ways you can work on this in rehearsal to combat this and one way is to not play a scene but walk through a scene. Doing exercises where two of you are in a scene and you say what you can see in a location and how you interact with it can really help you focus on the scenework development and make you bond stronger together as players.

When you are doing a scene with a player the one thing to do the most is listen to what they are saying. Whilst in improv you do not have to yes and everything, every so often it is important to do exercises in rehearsals where you do this to focus on what the other is saying and again get to grips with the scenes that are being built.

The next time you do a scene really try and focus on not the fact you are ‘improvising’ but what your partner is doing and that should naturally help to create a scene together.

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