What in the World is Improv?


You might have heard your Drama Kid say that they did some improv in their class but what exactly is improv?

Improvisation, or improv, is a form of live theatre in which the plot, characters, and dialogue of a game, scene, or story are made up in the moment. Often improvisers will take a suggestion from the audience, or draw on some other source of inspiration to get started.

Improv is incredibly unique in that if you see a performance, that’s it… there will never be another scene or show exactly like it ever done again. Improv is different every time.

There are two different forms of improv, long form and short form. The short form consists of scenes that only take a few minutes, stand on their own, or that are connected by an overarching thematic motif, but not connected to each other. Improv “games” are largely all short form and usually lead to very comical interactions. Whereas, long form improv includes the actors staying in character to create a more detailed scene that can end up being made into a short play. This form tends to take on a more serious tone but can include comedic elements.

A very popular version of long form improv is the Murder Mystery. Actors have a general idea of where the plot is headed and even who the murderer is but must come up with most of the show in the moment.

The most important aspect of both long and short improv is the concept of “Yes, and…”. An actor must never say no to a suggestion made by another actor. If there is a suggestion of aliens who live underwater, the actor must say “Yes, and” and continue to add more details to the scene.

In fact, there are many rules to improv theatre according to PanTheatre.com:

The first ten improv rules are:

  1. Say “yes, and!”
  2. Add new information.
  3. Don’t block.
  4. Avoid asking questions- unless you’re also adding information.
  5. Play in the present and use the moment.
  6. Establish the location.
  7. Be specific and provide colorful details.
  8. Change, Change, Change!
  9. For serious and emotional scenes, focus on characters and relationships.
  10. For humorous scenes, take choices to the nth degree or focus on actions/objects.

In Drama Kids, we don’t delve too far into all of those rules. We use improvisation to create silly characters and have fun but behind the scenes, it does so much more! Improvisational theatre encourages critical and creative thinking while allowing students to trust their instincts so they don’t second guess themselves.

Try some improv at home with your family. Give this game a shot then play some more from SecondCity.com:

Yes, And…

Pick an object, any object!  The first player points out something about it, and the next player has to say “yes, and…” [insert something else about the object here]. If you can’t think of an add-on, you’re out! Choose a new object and begin again!

Example: The object? A shoe.

Player One: “A shoe is supportive.”
Player Two: “Yes, and stinky if Dad is wearing it.”
Player Three: “Yes, and you’re grounded.”
(Dad would be out for not staying on topic.)

Theatre’s Impact on Mental Health: How Theatre Can Help Without You Knowing

Drama classes can help with mental health




Your child’s mental wellbeing is extremely important. More so in this time of constant change though with the introduction of online classes for this new year, it can be tough to get the help your child might need. Luckily, you can support your growing thinker through more than just schools and psychologist’s offices. According to WayAhead.org.au, a study was done by The Australian Theatre for Young People (ATYP) to see if their drama program impacted the mental health of their participants over the past few decades.

They found of the more than 1,200 people who participated in the survey, 89% reported participating in the drama program had a positive impact on their self-confidence and 94% of respondents said it had a positive impact on their overall sense of wellbeing. 52% of people – slightly more than half of all respondents – indicated that ATYP had a positive or very positive impact on their anxiety levels.

These results could be because, in a digital age, theatre provides an environment to personally engage with others and can be a practical way to address serious issues that society is facing such as bullying, friendship, family relationships, etc. According to the report, “One person noted that as a young boy, he suffered from bullying and severe anxiety. ‘ATYP helped bring me out of my shell and nurtured my passion for performing.’”

Theatre can also promote self-confidence and self-expression. Fraser Corfield, the Artistic Director of ATYP states, “We talk about the importance of self-expression and telling your own story and “finding your tribe”, which is a term that youth theatres use over and over, …” and a “tribe” is exactly what children who participate in the performing arts can find. In theatre, you are encouraged to be 100% your authentic self so the friendships and bonds you make are usually incredibly strong and long-lasting.

The most beautiful thing about this connection between mental health and theatre is, “these benefits occur without any conversation around mental health. So there’s part of me that goes ‘we need to keep that because I think the death knell of theatre, and theatre for young people, is that we keep using theatre to try and teach young people about something’,” according to Fraser. The benefits come solely from the students having fun transforming into new characters, creating scenes with friends, or just getting to be silly by moving around the room in creative ways.