3:31:50 PM

What is improv?


What is Improv?

Webster says...

  1. To invent, compose, or perform with little or no preparation.
  2. To play or sing (music) extemporaneously, especially by inventing
    variations on a melody or creating new melodies in accordance with a set
    progression of chords.
  3. To make or provide from available materials: I improvised a dinner
    from what I found in the refrigerator.

We say...
A friend of yours asks you about your vacation and you tell him how you
almost missed the plane because your car stalled. A neighbor who works in a garage luckily got it going again just in time for you to make your flight. The telling of the story was improvised. There was no script. You did not rehearse telling it. You probably changed it as you told it based on the reaction of your friend. Perhaps during the story the friend you were speaking to became distracted by an odd noise. You might have included some detail to pull him back into the story. The fact is improvisation is a daily occurrence. What makes it a skill is when situations pop up and there is no option or point to formulate or reason your way to an answer.

You are trapped in a burning room. You dump water collected from a
dehumidifier onto a rug, drape it over yourself and escape to the
parking lot.

Your daughter asks you for a sandwich but you are out of bread so you
use a bagel instead.

At a the dinner before wedding of a close friend the best man disappears
with the coat check girl and the toast to the bride and groom falls to
you. You stand up and look at them with nothing in your mind. You lift
your glass and say, "Clearly, this wedding has made all of us lucky.
Some more than others."

These are all improvised moments. A situation arises that requires action and the improvisers uses everything on hand to answer the call. Improvisation begins with you, where you are, with what you have in the present here and now (in the moment). An improvised moment is not a creation of habit, training or memory. All of those aspects might allow improvisation to occur but they are not the source. Sunlight is not the source of a flower. The seed is. Good
habits, strong training , and quick memory nurture improvisation. The source of it is your unique personality within that particular situation. The improvised answer is the problem reflected on the mirror of your mind.

And if all of that is just way too deep, here's one more definition.

Improv = Just making stuff up


©2003 Karen Stobbe and "In The Moment". Material may be freely distributed with proper accreditation.