Improvisation exercises are known to build confidence and promote spontaneity amongst actors. Read on to find how improvisation techniques for actors.

Improvisation Exercises

‘Try, try until you succeed’. Or ‘practice makes a man perfect’. Even better would be ‘experience is the best teacher’. What are these phrases all about? You guessed it right, its improvisation! Improvisation is the key to success. Doesn’t matter if you have an MBA degree from the most reputed college or a doctorate degree in your subject, what matters is how spontaneously you work upon the techniques for enhanced productivity in terms of work. Improvisation is needed in all the fields, be it art, science or commerce. Working on the falls out and getting better day by day, not by rehearsed actions, but by impromptu ones, is quintessential. Did you know that improvisation is needed in acting as well? Well, that answers the question as to how average or typical actors suddenly swish up the ladder of success, sometimes even surpassing the megastars.
In acting, improvisation is a set of those exercises that warm up the acting crew before their actual stage performance. These exercises are aimed at relaxing the actors, before they go out there and attempt to charm their audience with their exquisite performances. But that’s not the only reason as to why improvisation exercises are done. These exercises can also act as effective ice-breakers in social clubs and other such organizations, but their main effectiveness lies on the stage before an actual performance. Improvisation exercises develop quick thinking and spontaneity in people and hence are considered good for building confidence, both on and off stage. This article focuses on the theatrical improvisation exercises. Use some of the following tips to get that stage fright out of your drama crew.
Improvisation Techniques For Actors
Simple Exercises
This is the oldest way. Gather all the actors and quickly make a list of topics. Write down these topics on small chits, fold them and place them in a bowl. Now, ask every actor to come on stage, pick a chit, think for a minute and speak for a minute over the topic. This is an effective way to cure the stage fright issues.
Who Am I? Tell Me.
Funny is the word for this one. Pair up your crew and ask one member to stand out of a room, while the second member goes into the room and comes with a character to play and practices the lines for about five minutes. After coming out of the room, the second actor has to act the character in front of the first one, who, in turn, has to identify the character. While this would build the second actor’s spontaneity, it would work on the first actor’s observations and logic. Switch the roles of the two actors in the second trail.
The Think Tanks
Play a simple “yes-game”. Give a topic to your group, such as importance of theatre in the era of cinema and ask every actor to say "Yes and..." before every sentence with the goal of supporting each others' suggestions. When the actors start getting slightly comfortable, change the game to "Yes, but..." using the same theme. Keep alternating till you think everyone is settled in the group. This would make people think in all possible directions.
Focused Exercises
Mirror, Mirror On The Wall
Pair up your actors and make them stand in front of each other. One actor would start talking gibberish with a specific emotion like love, hate or grief. The other would have to instantly copy the emotion and start talking gibberish. Only the emotion has to be mirrored and not the speech. After about 10 seconds, player A again changes the motion and player B has to catch up. After 5 minutes, make them swap their roles.
Work The Vocal Chords
Gather your team in a circle with their eyes focused on the ground. As soon as the facilitator says “GO”, the team has to lift their heads and look straight, left or right. The rule is that the moment two players look into each other’s eyes, they have to scream on top of their lungs, as if startled to see each other and then fall on the ground, as if swooning with shock. Repeat till only 1 or 2 players are left standing.
Mirror, Mirror Yet Again!!
This is a variation of the mirror game. Here, too, the players have to pair up in two’s. Player 1 starts making movements in a slow motion, while looking directly at B. B then has to start imitating A’s slow motions, as if A was a mirror. B must copy within 5 seconds of the start and A must change the movements every 20 seconds or so.

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