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Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre Paperback – Jan 7 1987
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Impro ought to be required reading not only for theatre people generally but also for teachers, educators, and students of all kinds and persuassions. Readers of this book are not going to agree with everything in it; but if they are not challenged by it, if they do not ultimately succumb to its wisdom and whimsicality, they are in a very sad state indeed . . . .Johnstone seeks to liberate the imagination, to cultivate in the adult the creative power of the child . . . .Deserves to be widely read and tested in the classroom and rehearsal hall . . .Full of excellent good sense, actual observations and inspired assetions.
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Top Customer Reviews
Once upon a time there was a brilliant little boy who lived in an alternative universe so he had mercifully never heard of Viola Spolin.
Therefore instead of following standard improv exercises such as 'mirror' or 'tug of war on the imaginary rope' He began creating his own.
These wre not dependant on the Spolin credo of agreeing on the 'Who, What, When and Where'. Rather our young hero was more fascinated by 'Why?' or in plainer English, 'Why should either the audience or the actors give a (expletive deleted) about this improv exercise? What's its value and moreover, could it apply to acting in general?
Consequently through experimentation, a contrary kind of courage ('My acting teachers told me never to make faces as it was untruthful, so I mugged whenever I could') and a curious interest in the transformative power of Mask work--which was out of fashion in The West since the fall of Athens--arrived at some startingly new discoveries for character work as well as Improv.
He then moved to Canada, opened his own troupe, and the rest, as they say is history . . .
Let's see, did I leave anything out? Oh Yes, a practical piece of advice and a cryptic remark to end this review:
1. If the library is burning and you have a choice of saving Stanislavski's trilogy or these two books, save Johnstone's
2. Beware of Boris (to say nothing of Igor)
This book, first published in 1979, remains the most important book on improvisation written in English.
Johnstone divides the world of improvising into four categories:Spontenaity, Narrative, Status and Masks.
The stories about his own loss of creativity through the demands of public education set the frame for his illuminating description of what it takes to return us all to our creative selves.
This book is a must read for anyone involved in the creative process, for all teachers of the arts and anyone who has ever wondered where his creativity has gone.
Head of Acting
Yet read Johnstone's first chapter - a memoir of his early teaching career, in which he discovered the process by which children learn to be uncreative as a tragic coping skill. This is not a theatre book. Theatre classes were the arena, but this is a book about teaching! This is about opening doors that have been slammed shut, and acquainting people with the creativity and exuberance that is everybody's birthright. The exercises, and analyses of his students' work with improvisation, along with Johnstone's unflagging faith in every person's imagination, have much to show us even on repeated readings and practice.
The section on status is extremely useful. As a testament, I used some of them in my beginning improv class and amazing things happened. The class understood and became more aware of how we use status in every moment of our lives. Scenes immediately became more interesting and real. I look forward to the mask activities. The only negative comment I can make is that a few of the exercises were not clearly explained. Johnstone's descriptions, at times, assume previous knowledge of the game being described. This is a book every actor and improver should read. It will expand your creativity and improve your physical awareness onstage. Enjoy it!
Most recent customer reviews
After many years of being wary about Johnstone's book, I've finally given in. My initial response was that while other improv texts cover the "Hows" this one covered the... Read morePublished on June 16 2009 by BowlingPete
Keith Johnstone is nothing less than brilliant. This book inspires, challenges, and moves me to do more. Read morePublished on Aug. 6 2004
I'm not an actor, have no experience of improvisational theatre (not even seen any!), but I loved this book. Read morePublished on May 15 2003 by Marco Polo
Impro is divided in four sections, Status, Spontaneity, Narrative Skills, and Masks and Trance. The most interesting section, Status, discusses how general physical attitudes... Read morePublished on June 2 2002 by Francois Tremblay
I first came actoss this book when I first got interested in theatre in the early 80s in England, and I couldn't believe what I was reading. Read morePublished on April 26 2002 by Alan Bates
This book is the one that I carry around with me and refer to constantly. It should be in the collection of every serious actor, writer and director - but almost anyone can... Read morePublished on May 17 2000 by Paul Norton
Johnstone's book is one of the two or three books in the field of Improvisational Theater that is a must read. Read morePublished on Dec 29 1999 by Eric Farone