Why improv is good for actors: 4 reasons
As an actor, you are always learning and growing and challenging yourself by trying different types of training. That’s why we’ve been focusing on some of the most renowned acting methods of all time in recent weeks, such as those of Stanislavski, Meisner and Chekhov. Today, however, I would like to focus on a very crucial tool for actors – and that is improvisation, or improv for short! Improv is where you create and perform a scene without a script! You make it up as you go along. It teaches you to be quick on your feet and ready to react when called upon. In today’s audition room, improv has quickly gone from a useful tool to a requirement, particularly in commercial auditions. At 3-2-1- Acting School in Los Angeles, we emphasize the importance of solid improv training. If you are wondering why improv is good for actors, here are 4 great reasons!
- Improv allows you to take risks.
Improv is all about taking risks – it’s about diving into the unknown, without a plan, and saying YES to whatever is in front of you — and building on that. How fun! Once you practice taking risks in the safe space of an improv classroom, you will find yourself taking more risks in your auditions – and in your life!
Improv skills make us stronger, smarter and gives us the trust we need to realize our ideas are good ideas. Knowing we can use our improv skills anytime gives us the freedom to take chances. When we take risks that others are scared to take…that’s when an exciting performance occurs. We shine as actors and as humans when we step past our fears.
2. Improv builds confidence.
You likely know by now that first impressions are the most important. If you can walk in and out of a room confidently, you’re already on your way to success. By conquering our fears of jumping into the unknown — and literally creating entire stories out of nothing via improv — we are sharpening our communications skills and our ability to connect and relate to other human beings in a variety of environments. We are becoming more confident. We are able to think and speak on our feet. Did you know that one of the number one fears among people is public speaking? Improv training will definitely enhance and expand your communication skills — both as an actor and as a professional in your industry.
3. Improv helps you to say YES and be open.
One of the key rules of improv is the “Yes, and!” rule. Here’s the thing: human beings are genetically set up to say no. It’s a protective instinct. We often default to hunching over, avoiding eye contact, and responding to questions with “Let me think about that,” or “maybe,” or “I’ll get back to you.” There is no time to hide in improv or in an audition. In order to move quickly on our feet, we must be open and ready to say yes to whatever is being called of us. Your scene partner says “So good to see you, my long lost sister.” You must say YES — and become the long lost sister in order to move the scene forward. If you said NO, the scene would stop right there. Improv will teach you to be both physically and mentally open and accepting to whatever is coming your way. Ask any football coach, and they’ll agree: you can’t catch the ball and score a touchdown if you aren’t open.
- Improv helps you to make strong choices.
Now, let’s talk about the “and” element of “Yes, and!” So many young actors worry about being “right” for the part. So often they (and everyone else) spend most of their time trying to fit into a mold of what they think others want. The reality is, people (and producers) often don’t know what they want. They want you to show them what they want. Improv teaches us to quickly make big, strong choices. When you say yes to whatever is presented to you, whether it be a scene partner or a script, and then build upon that with strong choices, you will inspire excitement and ideas in others.
Lastly, and most importantly, improv is a whole lot of fun. Enjoy bonding with your classmates and teammates through improv training. Give yourself permission to be silly and have a blast! After all, improvisation acting is famous for its hilarity, so go for it!