|Improv 4 Kids Study Guides and Teaching Resources:
We have created these study guides for your students so their experience with IMPROV 4 KIDS is eductional.
For many students that see the show live NYC, it is the first time attending a professional off-broadway or
broadway style show. These guides can be used directly by the teachers so that the students can gain a better
understanding about the art of improvisation.
Download FULL Study Guides & PDF Files:
Improv Study Guide
Glossary of Improv Terms
Improv Word-Find Puzzle (FUN!)
Theatre & improv Game List or (view or Improv Game List Webpage)
Acting & Directing Basics
History of Improv
Glossary of Terms and Concepts:
IMPROVISATION THEATRE is when actors spontaneously create a monologue, scene or play without a script. In some cases like jazz
improvisation, actors will take a theme or suggestion to develop new work.
YES AND.... Rule Number One: Accept your scene partner's offer; then, respond with detailed offers that build and support your fellow players
offers. Conceptual NOs and BUTs stop the action. Beginning students often go for the joke or sell out a scene partner by negating offers, thus
bringing scenes to a screeching halt. Exp: PLAYER 1: Look at my nice new car! PLAYER 2: That's not your car that's your dog!!
GIVE AND TAKE Improvised dialogue going back and fourth between the players with a balance of exchange or ideas.
NO BLOCKING Blocking is doing the opposite of YES AND... Rejecting information or ideas offered by another players ("here is a hammer" "I
don't need that!"). If another player give you an offer then accept it ("here is a hammer" "Thanks now we can build our dog house!")The best way
to move a scene forward is for both players to be in agreement.
JUSTIFY EVERYTHING Find a solution for every offer and every element introduced in the scene. Think you made a mistake? No problem. Just
find a way to justify it.
CONFLICT GOOD/ARGUING BAD The best comedy and drama both derive from great conflict. The worst (with rare exceptions) comes from
bickering back and forth minute details. With improvisation, arguing details becomes petty. Rather than demading "I'm right", try to resolve the
PANTOMIME Use your space and define your environments, characters, and actions using physical gestures and committing to the scene
head to toe. Avoid being a "talking head". Physical activities and choices take us "out of our heads".
QUESTIONS Rephrase questions as a detailed statement by answering your own question and adding details to your motivation. Most
questions are usually a sign o fplayers relying on their scene partners to carry a story. "Whis is that" should be something like "That is a very
exquisite flower you have there." / "Where are we?" could be "It sure is cold in this musty old apartment"
ASK FOR is a question of statement posed to the audience looking for a suggestion for scene topics
STAYING "IN THE MOMENT" Just like with scripted material it's important to be prepared, listen and focus on the current moment. Listen and
respond to your scene partner. Planning ahead takes you out of the moment resulting in many missed opportunities for humor. Try not to focus
on quick zingers and punchlines by creating a unique situation through details and activity.
ADDITIONAL IMPROV TERMINOLOGY
Accepting Embracing the offers made by other performers in order to advance the scene.
Advancing The process of moving the scene forwards.
Arc Scene or story has a beginning, middle and end
Beat A unit of action in a scene. A scene is made up of a series of beats.
Breaking the routine Interrupting an action with another action in order to advance the scene.
Breaking when a player breaks out of character and laughs while in a scene
Cameo when a player steps into the scene from backstage (also see walk on)
Cancelling Making previous action irrelevant. Once an action has been cancelled, it's as if it hadn't happened at all. Usually a bad idea.
Charm The quality that makes an audience enjoy watching a performer.
Commenting Stepping out of the reality of the scene by saying or doing something that refers to the fact that it's a scene being played. Also
refers to "playing" an emotion rather than feeling it. Should be avoided, though used sparingly it can sometimes be effective.
Complementary offer An offer that meshes well with what's already gone before (and usually enhances it in some way).
Conflict Many (but not all!) scenes are about a conflict of some sort.
Context The broader setting for the scene (political, social, etc).
Denial See "blocking".
Driving Taking over a scene and not letting other performers influence its direction. Makes you an unpopular improvisor.
Endowing Assigning attributes to another performer's character.
Explore and heighten To take an idea and see where it leads, exploring its natrual consequences while simultaneously raising the stakes.
Extending Taking an idea and letting it become the central theme of the scene.
Focus The audience's attention should only be in one place at any given time; that place (or person) is the "focus" of the scene. If more than
one thing is going on simultaneously, the focus is split. Experienced improvisors will smoothly share focus, less experienced improvisors
often steal or reject focus.
Gagging Trying to make a joke or do something funny that doesn't flow naturally from the scene. Always a bad idea.
Gibberish A nonsense language.
Gossip Talking about things instead of doing them. Also, talking about things that are offstage or in the past or future.
Handle The premise for a scene or game.
Hedging Making small talk instead of engaging in action.
Interactive Theatre Any form of theatre in which the audience is not a passive performer. Encompasses a range of different styles, ranging
from "spot" improv to loosely-scripted stories such as murder mysteries or faux events (e.g. Tony and Tina's Wedding).
Masking Standing in a place where you can't be seen properly, or in such a way that you're hiding someone else or some important action.
Should be avoided.
Mugging Making silly faces instead of reacting truthfully. Generally frowned upon.
Naming Identifying characters, objects, places and so forth in the scene.
Narrative The story told by a scene. Scenes should have a clear beginning, middle and end.
Objective The thing that a character in a scene is trying to achieve.
Offer Any dialog or action which advances the scene. Offers should be accepted.
Offer from space Dialog or action that is bizarre and that appears to come from nowhere.
Physicalization Turning intent into action and movement.
Point of Concentration What the scene is about.
Post-show Discussion of the show by the performers and crew after the performance, in order to identify problem areas that may have arisen
as well as things that worked particularly well.
Plateau A period during which a scene is not advancing. Usually a bad thing.
Platform The who (characters and relationship), what(action or activity) and where(location/surroundings) of a scene. The success of a scene
often depends on having a solid platform.
Playlist The list of handles and/or ask-fors to be used in a show. Also called a "running order".
Pimping Playfully getting another performer to do something difficult or unpleasant which you probably wouldn't do yourself. Used sparingly,
can be quite entertaining. Best strategry is to choose things the other performer does well.
Raising the Stakes Making the events of the scene have greater consequences for the characters. One technique for advancing.
Reincorporation Bringing back an idea from earlier in the scene, or from a previous scene in the show, or even from a previous performance.
Stand-up comedians refer to this as a "callback". Always fun, but not something to over-do.
Setup Explaining the handle of the scene to the audience before the scene starts. Also involves doing an ask-for. The performer who does the
setup usually shouldn't start off on stage in the scene.
Shelving Acknowledging an offer but not doing anything with it, with the intent of using it later. Of course, later never comes.
Space-object An object that's used in the scene but which doesn't really exist. A mimed object. In general, anything that doesn't support weight
(like a chair) should be a space object.
Status A character's sense of self-worth. Many scenes are built around status transfers, in which one character's status drops while another's
rises. Physical Environments and objects also have status.
Stepping Out Breaking the reality of the scene. See "Commenting".
Synthesis Combining two dissimilar ideas into one, such as hearing two suggestions from the audience and combining them into a single
idea that gets used in the scene. Can be fun.
Talking heads A scene that involves a lot of standing (or worse yet, sitting) around talking rather than engaging in physical action.
Transformation Turning something into something else (one character into another, one object into another, one environment into another).
Tummeling Bantering with the audience during setups.
Waffling Failing to make decisions. Talking about what you're going to do instead of doing it.
Walk-on (or Walk-through) The act of entering a scene, making a strong offer that advances the scene, and then exiting. Use sparingly.
Wanking Doing something cute and silly that makes the audience laugh but doesn't do anything to advance the scene.
Wimping Accepting an offer but failing to act on it.
NOTE: Improv theatre is a must for every performer but also valuable to countless other professionals.
IMPROV4 Kids, Eight is NEVER Enough and other improv companies help numerous professionals develop
better sales, service, communication, leadership and public speaking. Improvisation through teambuilding
workshops and shows have helped doctors, teachers, corporate executives, and many more. In every field,
the ability to communicate, think creatively and on one's feet enhances the chances for success.