WHAT IS IMPROV? - The Courtyard Playhouse The Courtyard Playhouse


Improvisational theatre, often called improv or impro, is a form of theater where most or all of what is performed is created at the moment it is performed. In its purest form, the dialogue, the action, the story and the characters are created collaboratively by the players as the improvisation unfolds in present time, without use of an already prepared, written script.

Improvisational theatre exists in performance as a range of styles of improvisational comedy as well as some non-comedic theatrical performances. It is sometimes used in film and television, both to develop characters and scripts and occasionally as part of the final product.

Improvisational techniques are often used extensively in drama programs to train actors for stage, film and television and can be an important part of the rehearsal process. However, the skills and processes of improvisation are used outside of the context of performing arts, as well. It is used in classrooms as an educational tool and in businesses as a way to develop communication skills, creative problem solving and supportive team-work abilities that are used by improvisational, ensemble players. It is sometimes used in psychotherapy as a tool to gain insight into a person's thoughts, feelings and relationships.

What is Narrative Improv?

In narrative improvisation, performers create a complete story based on audience suggestions.  As opposed to other improv that focuses primarily on the joke, narrative improv cares most about creating a story that not only makes the audience laugh, but has a complete arc from beginning to end. Narrative improv blends the excitement of spontaneity with the emotional depth of a traditional theatre experience. 

Why learn narrative improv?  

Stories are a part of our everyday life.  Stories are how we share ideas with one another.  And in improv, telling stories transcends the art form from being a series of jokes to being an experience the audience and the performer will remember for a long time.  Narrative improv stories not only make you laugh, but make you think and feel.

For the professional actor, more and more, casting directors are looking for improvisers who can do more than just tell a joke. They want actors who can keep the reality of the scene. Who have an understanding of the bigger picture and where their character fits within that.  Directors very often ask actors to improvise, and they are not always looking for a joke.  They want to see what happens when you invest in the character within the given circumstances of the scene.  So whether you do comedy or drama, narrative improv will make you a stronger actor.

Narrative improv also helps the professional writer and director create a deeper relationship to story. Not only do we explore story from an outside perspective, but the writer and director can get a subjective experience of creating story. And it helps to teach them the most important rule in both art forms, let go of judgement.

What is the International Theatresports Institute?

At the Courtyard Playhouse we follow the theory and teaching of Keith Johnstone and are licensed to perform his formats Maestro, Theatresports and Gorilla Improv. As a member of the iTi we have been nominated to host the biannual conference which will be taking place in Dubai at the Playhouse in Nov 2017! https://theatresports.org