Improv Corner – Channel That Energy!

Photo by Kelly Lacy on

Sometimes when you do a show in improv you can be given a character or a suggestion that you are not happy with and can feel uninspired by the suggestion. If you have felt like this never fear, everyone feels like this at some point in improv and you are not alone. It can be very easy to feel like you have been given the short straw at times with certain character endowments but don’t give up, instead give them the life and energy they deserve!

If there is one thing I hate being given in a scene, then that is the profession of teacher. Now, there is nothing wrong with this particular suggetion but I amnot a fan because I find a lot of people take the idea and turn it into a young child with a teacher, this doesn’t need to be the case as a teacher could be anyone if you really think about it. However, 98% of the time people in a scene want to make that suggestion literal and I have to bite my tongue, put on a fake smile and deal with it.

The thing is, the example above, even though Ihate this suggestion I always try to channel as much energy as I can into the suggestion to make it the best darn teacher I can. I feel that with improv you cannot be selfish, it is a shared experience with the audience and if they want to see a teacher on stage you give them what they want and be the best you can be.

By giving energy to the suggestion means that even if it isn’t the best scene that you have created or something that you are not keen on, it gives the audience an opportunity to laugh and be entertained. When you apply energy to a suggestion and a scene it automatically gives it life.

So here are a few tips that you help you when you are faced in these situations;

+ Completely commit to the character – no matter what suggestion you are given, from a milkman to an astronaut commit to the character 100% and make sure that you own it. Think about the way that character would move, interact, work with objects – it really does make a difference and even if the scene doesn’t go to plan your character work will shine through.

+ Be the master of all knowledge – You are given a character or a suggetion that you know nothing about, it could be a scientist or even a opticians, make sure you are the king of knowledge. I find that when I am given a character that I feel intimated by it can be very easy to sort of close those barriers and become very stiff and nervous on stage. The way to deal with that? Act like you are the king of all knowledge. So what if there isn’t a procedure called the Fishatadorian it doesn’t matter – if you say that it exists then it does! That is the magic of improv anything you say can be true. Now, this can be hard when you have someone in your scene that blocks this BUT this world does not have to be true to the world. If you say it is true, it is and own it with your energy on stage.

+ Think of the audience – In a show it will be the audience that will be calling the shots and giving you the suggestions so instead of rolling your eyes and thinking ‘oh no not again’ remember that they chose it either to catch you out or because they actually want to see this suggestion come to life. Just think of their faces and how happy they will be watching you bring something they wanted to life! It’s something to think about…

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