Rules Of Improv Theater
Improv is an art. However, it is also a craft. A craft is something that is learned through practice, repetition, trial, error and oh, yes, hard work. Much
like any other art, skill in improv is acquired over time. The more time spent improv-ing the greater the improvement (pun intended).
That being said, there are rules which can, in general, make a scene better. As with any art form, you can break all of the rules and still have quality
scenes. However, those best able to break the rules are those who first learn and understand them.
So, let's look at some of the basic rules of improv.
1. Say "Yes'and!"
For a story to be built, whether it is short form or long form, the players have to agree to the basic situation and set-up. The who, what, and where
have to be developed for a scene to work. By saying yes, we accept the reality created by our partners and begin the collaborative process from the
start of a scene. The collaborative process or group mind helps make us giants, animals, villains, saints and more importantly put us in situations that
we would normally avoid.
2. After the "'and," add new information.
An improvised scene can't move forward or advance unless we add new information. That is why new information is added after the "Yes" of "Yes
Yes, I washed big dawg and I fed him your steak too!
Yes, I washed big dawg. (SILENCE)
Yes, I accept being your assistant Heir Doctor and will gladly get you the princess's body from the morgue tonight.
Yes, I accept being your assistant Heir Doctor. (SILENCE)
Saying "Yes'and" does not mean there will not be conflict or that we would accept something our character would not accept.
3. Don't Block.
The opposite of saying "yes'and" is blocking or denial.
Denial destroys or stops the addition of new information or worse negates what has already been established. Blocking is a way of minimizing the
impact of new information. It is also a method for the performer to play it safe. The