During the improv unit we did a lot of interesting and fun activities, but for me, there were a few that stood out, and I felt I got the most out of. One of the first ones we did was “spaghetti and meatball.” This activity seemed weird to me at first, because I didn’t understand how you could tell a story by only using two words. The only way you could communicate and show what you meant was by the way you said, “spaghetti and meatballs” and your body language. By doing this activity, I learned the importance of tone and facial expression. I also learned how to sense a tone. When you are doing improv, it’s essential to sense the tone of your fellow actor as well as their face. So that you respond in a way that makes sense. There are so many ways to say a sentence. You need to think about the tone because that decides whether your character is happy, sad, mad, dreamy, etc. The tone can also tell your fellow actors if it’s a question or a statement and helps them again respond in a way that would make sense.
Another activity that helped me was “The computer with all the answers.” The reason why this was useful to me was that it helped me understand that you can’t take time to think about what you are going to say, or plan what you think people would say. You have to go with it, be open to what others say, and act based on that. For me, this was challenging because I like to plan what I’m going to say, and take time to think about it so that it makes sense, but since it was going so fast, I had to say the first thing that came to mind to complete the sentence.
The last activity that I felt learned a lot from was when you were put in groups, and you got three words that had to be in a scene you would make. In this task, you learned the importance of collaboration. You choose what you are going to do based on what the other characters are doing. You also practice creativity. The three words rarely matched each other, so you had to figure out with your partners how you could embed it into a story and make the story make sense. For me, it was challenging to stay in my role, because sometimes I wouldn’t know what to say or I would feel like I messed up. Staying focused and not stop up (just go with it) if you make a mistake, is something I need to practice, so that’s why this activity was helpful.
Something that challenged me the most was not being afraid of making mistakes. In improv, it’s important not to stop, if you say something “wrong” you have to keep going so that the scene doesn’t stop. It was also letting go of the “right and wrong ” mindset because you can’t really say something wrong in improv, it might not make sense, but it’s not “wrong.” The only thing considered “wrong” is if you deny the other person’s offer because then the scene won’t go anywhere.
The most important rule of improv is having fun. I’ve done acting outside of school and in school, and everywhere I have been I have heard ” Don’t forget to have fun.” We haven’t learned improv by reading texts or studying, the way we have learned it is by doing fun games and in those games, we learn useful skills. Confusious said once “Tell me, and I will forget, show me, and I may remember; involve me, and I will understand.” and that’s what we are doing we are getting involved and understanding improvisation. If you are performing a piece, it shows if you are having fun while doing it, because of the way you are engaged, the way you talk, and you have a more confident look.
Improvisation is a skill you use more than you know. Life is improvised. There isn’t a script for how you are going to live your life. You do stuff based on the environment around you; you act based on what people say or do. When you have a conversation with someone you don’t come prepared with a script of what you are going to say, no, you improvise. In improv, you learn to listen; we have to process and respond not just react. Responding is a skill that is needed everywhere. We can sometimes be too caught up in planning what to say, that it doesn’t make sense with what has been said because we didn’t pay attention. By doing this unit, we have practiced the skill of listening then responding not overthinking what you are going to say. Teamwork is another key concept of improvising. One person says something, and you say “yes and”; accepting one idea and adding to that idea is what keeps the scene going or a project going. By doing improv I have learned to not be afraid of doing mistakes, being more confident and being more collaborative.