Mark BRatton



Generally, in Improv, a framework is put together that an actor can work with and then be free to build upon from there. 

Let’s say the story is about an urban youth that's about to visit relatives in a rural community.  That would be your basis for the whole show.

From that knowledge, you would put together a story depending on what environment you're in when the characters enter the scenes.  The keynote thing you want to establish IMMEDIATELY is:  WHO the people are, WHAT they are doing at that particular moment and WHERE they are doing it at that moment.

In the our scene [EX: Scene 1) Waking up the morning before the trip].  Here, you may choose to sit in bed and perform a monologue about how excited, or NOT you are about the trip to the country.  Or, your choice might be having to wake up and deal with the immediate characters like your "parents" or "siblings" in the show.  How will you deal with your "brother" whom, you've just decided, is waaaaay too stoked about being away from the city so that he can get into some "country girls".  How will you deal with your "father" who NEVER wants to go anywhere with the family.  Is it Big Ten weekend?  Are the family members you're going to visit HIS IN-LAWS?  That makes it even MORE interesting, right?  Do you see how many directions you might take this already?

I've performed for over ten years and I can tell you it's the most liberating thing on the planet.  Scripted work is fine, but nothing brings forth "truth" in acting like Improv.  While it takes skill to personalize a writer's or director's vision of the script, an actor can TRULY personalize a character and a story when he HELPS to build it, and is trusted to give it life.  You not only want to succeed as a performer, but since you’ve invested your acting AND, essentially, your writing ability in that moment, you CARE about what happens to the work.  Also, people think you’re beyond special because they can’t imagine creating in the moment like that. 

The Art of Improv