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Impro for Storytellers (Theatre Arts (Routledge Paperback)) [Paperback]

Keith Johnstone
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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First Sentence
Theatresports was inspired by pro-wrestling, a family entertainment where Terrible Turks mangled defrocked Priests while mums and dads yelled insults, and grannies staggered forward waving their handbags (years passed before I learned that some of the more berserk grannies were paid stooges). Read the first page
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5.0 out of 5 stars Handbook for practitioners July 25 2001
Keith Johnstone's earlier work, IMPRO, has influenced and will continue to influence the way acting and improvisation for the theatre are taught. IMPRO is a book not only about theatre and improv, but about teaching and human interaction, loaded with insights making that book highly suitable for the general reader.
This follow-up is more specialized: a handbook for putting IMPRO into practice, including detailed improv structures for performance and for rehearsal, and chapters on how to teach these games. Sample run lists and notes from performances impart Johnstone's experiences, trials and errors over many years teaching in several countries. The book is exhaustive and beautifully written, but for the general reader, IMPRO is more appropriate.
One disappointment about the book is some sloppy copy-editing. It is rife with typos, of the sort that are not picked out by a computer spell-checker since the typos form actual words.
The title IMPRO FOR STORYTELLERS is, as Tim Sheppard pointed out below, potentially misleading. This is not a book that will help a solo performer generate material, though some of the exercises within can be translated for that purpose. Johnstone's concern is that improv not be restricted to a form of "light entertainment" (think "Who's Line Is It Anyway?"), but as a way of generating narrative and using it to explore human relationships.
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Not many practical manuals are also fun to just read, but this one is - funny, incisive, witty, philosophical and more. It is tremendously useful in many ways. I'm involved in applying impro, but not for Theatre Sports or comedy impro, yet this book is invaluable. My only annoyance is that it should be called Storytelling for Improvisors instead. If you are a storyteller hoping to learn how to improvise stories, this book will not address that directly for you, although if you absorb all the insight you'll get a lot of practical help. Johnstone's comments and analysis are very thought provoking, and reveal a great deal about human nature and the way our minds (and inhibitions) work. Any psychologist could learn a lot here too. If you are after a bumper book of games, go no further - this details a large number, but also with expert advice on how to teach and run the games, including warnings about all the variations that don't work.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Second Coming of Keith... Jan. 20 2000
This book, in contrast with his last one, is much more linear and down-to-earth, but every bit as powerful. He dives straight into 'how-to' mode, decribing his own version of improv theater. This might be a little tedious for those not interested in licencing a "Theatersports" venue in their own town, but hang in there. He quickly gets to the meat of simply creating good improv, what behaviours and actions get you there, and how to sustain it. This is a book 100% designed to assist the improviser, both the individual, as well as the 'group'. He even goes so far as to provide shortcut lists in the appendix for use in performance! Keith Johnstone is a visonary, and I'm convinced that whatever theater will look like in the coming years, he will have inspired much of it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Improv Reading! Jan. 9 2004
I thought that Keith Johnstone's first book "Impro" was the best book on Improv -- until I read this. Impro For Storytellers is chock full of imaginative games that will make any improv workshop (or communications training) sparkle with creative fun and learning by taking the pressure off of being creative.
If you want the best collection of improv games since Spolins "Improvisation for the Theatre", this is it. Johnstone paces the book with wonderful stories of how the games have been used under all sorts of circumstances, with a brilliant and dry sense of wit. If you are interested in improv, please read this book!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Worth the read Dec 29 1999
Johnstone's new book Impro for Storytellers does pick up where his last book leaves off. He gives us a good picture of what 'his' Impro should look like. Then he give a huge amount of excersises and games to play. I give this book only 4 stars because I am fundamentally opposed to training actors in front of an audience. Had it not been for this prejudice and a few other idealogical differences I would have given it 5 stars. Once again, it is lucid, clear, and a necessary manual for any teacher of acting or improvisation. If you perform in a version of Johnstone's Theatersports you have a new bible for improv.
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5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite how-to book on writing! Dec 21 2003
By A Customer
Johnstone points out the importance of storytelling rhythm, and how to maintain it through dozens of exercises (meant for actors) to show how we naturally short-circuit it through under-observing, over-thinking, negative thinking, etc.
As much a psychological treatise as a practical work, it is one of my favorite HOW-TO books on writing. The transcripts of sample activities read like step-by-step reinforcements of a more open, organic means of thinking.
What Manuel Smith did for Assertiveness in "When I say No I feel Guilty" Johnstone does for creative storytelling in this book!
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