Improv teaches our students the very fundamentals of what Drama Kids is all about. It encourages our students to jump out of their comfort zones! They don’t get the safety blanket of a script – instead, they use their instincts and imagination. Actors in an improv must also trust their scene partners and share the spotlight in order for a scene to be successful. Not to mention all the creative thinking, public speaking, and spontaneous action they have to use in each activity. (Do you want to know the best part? Our Drama Kids don’t even realize how much they are truly benefitting from our improv games because they are busy having so much fun!) But that isn’t all!
Participating in improv also teaches you some great lessons that anyone, at any age, can use in their day-to-day life.
Rule 1 of Improv: Always say “Yes!”
The first rule of improv we teach our students is to always say “YES”! This simply means that if you are in a scene and your scene partner says “There’s an alien behind you!” you should accept the scenario your partner gave you, and react accordingly! If you say to your partner, “No, there’s no alien behind me,” the scene doesn’t progress and falls flat. Easy enough, right?
Now, think about YOUR life. How often do you say “yes”? How often do you step out of your comfort zone? Maybe you’ve declined an invitation to a hot yoga class recently, or you said no to trying sushi for the first time. Aren’t you just blocking yourself from new experiences – and, in turn, blocking your own “scene” from progressing further? Remember to be open to new experiences that come your way, and to always have an open mind. Next time someone asks you to step out of your comfort zone – say, “yes!”
Rule 2 of Improv: Say “Yes, and…” Add details!
Often in a scene it’s not enough to just say, “yes”. An actor must add details to keep the ball rolling! Using our previous example, “There’s an alien behind you!” – a scene partner shouldn’t respond with, “Yes, there is.” This gives an actor as little to work with as a flat-out, “No, there’s not.” An appropriate response would add in more details to the situation. For example, “Yes there is an alien and he’s about to release his tractor beam! RUN!” is a much more interesting and playable response.
So how does this rule relate to the real world? Well, how many times have you been stuck in a conversation with a person who will only respond with one-word answers? Probably quite often! It’s like talking to a wall – So. Frustrating. Adding in details to a conversation and avoiding those dreaded one-word responses (fine, good, okay, etc.) will not only make you more interesting, it will also make you a better public speaker!
Rule 3 of Improv: Don’t Block your partner
Another important rule we teach our students is to avoid “blocking” your partner. This means making it harder for your scene partner, in any way, to progress the scene. An actor can block their partner in a few ways. For example, if your scene partner tells you, “A zombie is heading this way!” and you say “Hey look, a unicorn!” that’s blocking! An actor can’t just ignore an idea and pretend the scene partner didn’t say anything. Another way you can block a scene partner is by asking too many questions. Questions put an actor on the spot, and gives them the sole responsibility to progress the scene.
So what about your life? Do you ever find yourself “blocking” someone else, or being blocked in a situation? Has your child ever been upset by all the questions you ask them when they get home from school? “How was your day?” “What did you learn?” “How was lunch?” “Did you see Aidan today?” Questions, questions, questions! We all understand why we have the desire to ask our children about their day – it’s only natural! You want to know all the little details of their day! However, giving them the third degree as soon as they walk through the door or get off the bus can put pressure on them. Try to get them talking with other tactics; for example, when your child walks through the door greet them with, “Hi! Welcome home! I’d love to hear about your day.” instead of bombarding them with questions. Or if your child likes to play video games to unwind, ask to play with them. You’ll be surprised at how much they open up when they are doing something they enjoy!
Rule 4 of Improv: Stay in the Moment
Perhaps the most important rule of improv is to stay in the moment. This means an actor shouldn’t break character or laugh if something funny happens. This breaks the “fourth wall” and takes both the actor AND the audience out of the moment. It’s totally frustrating! The actor should be living in the present, they should be completely engaged in the situation, and be ready for anything!
I’m sure you know how important it is to stay in the moment in life as well! Life goes by pretty fast – and we all must learn to enjoy every second of it while it’s happening! Always dwelling on the past or thinking ahead to what’s going to come next takes you out of the moment in the present. So stop and look around you and be engaged in the now – you’ll thank yourself in the future!
Improv and life lessons go hand-in-hand at Drama Kids! Find a Drama Kids near you today!