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Improvisation for the Theater 3E: A Handbook of Teaching and Directing Techniques [Paperback]

Viola Spolin
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 28 1999 Drama and Performance Studies
Here is the thoroughly revised third edition of the bible of improvisational theater.

Viola Spolin's improvisational techniques changed the very nature and practice of modern theater. The first two editions of Improvisation for the Theater sold more than 100,000 copies and inspired actors, directors, teachers, and writers in theater, television, film. These techniques have also influenced the fields of education, mental health, social work, and psychology.

<a href="title.cfm?ISBN=0-8101-4007-1">Also available: Spolin's <i>Theater Game File</i></a>

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Improvisation for the Theater 3E: A Handbook of Teaching and Directing Techniques + Theater Games for the Classroom: A Teacher's Handbook
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Product Description

From Library Journal

This new edition of a highly acclaimed handbook, last published in 1983 and widely used by theater teachers and directors, is sure to be welcomed by members of the theater profession. Spolin, who died in 1994, developed her improvisational techniques of using "game" exercises while teaching with the WPA Recreational Project in Chicago. Editor Sills, her son and founder of the Second City Theater, here updates over 200 classic exercises and adds 30 new ones. The creative group work and games, which can be used with all levels and ages of performers, and workshop techniques that enhance performers' natural abilities and intuition are all clearly explained. Also included are useful definitions of theater terms and a glossary of side-coaching phrases. Libraries with older editions will want this excellent update. Highly recommended for all theater arts collections.AHoward E. Miller, Rosary H.S. Lib., St. Louis
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"Her book is the bible." --Rob Reiner

"It's like basic research ... she [has] changed the theater for generations." --Alan Alda

"She has genius and shares it." --Valerie Harper

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you can only buy one book. March 25 2003
By A Customer
In fact any other book you may buy will have most of spolins ideas.
If you are guiding any one in an improvisational education. this is the best. It is very important for improvisers to learn about comedic improv through spolins techniques. all other forms of improv is about the joke which lets face it is only funny because you know the performers. but spolin allows you to discover the scene not the joke. and if you are naturally a funny person chances are your scene will be funny. this is not to say that the funniest guy wont have a serious scene .some times when an improv is a true improv you have to let it be what it is whatever it is.
great book. great book .fun book. gauranteed to give you guru status if you follow her instruction. after all you will be giving the most wonderful gift to all your students. your students will develope as improvisers the correct way and will be able to work with anyone.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Bible of Improv Oct. 23 2002
Or, thanks to the new and brilliant approaches of Halpern and Johnstone, The Old Testament of Improv.
At any rate Viola Spolin influenced improv more than any other human being. She was the first, the pioneer. Her son, Paul Sills, founded both The Compass and Second City. He carries on her work.
Easily 90+% of all improv exercises taught in American universities are derived from her. And most mediocre books on ipmrov are small samplings of re-cycled Spolin exercises, without her focus.

Which is a nice way to segway into telling the reader that even 'The Bible' is bound to disappoint if one misses the theme of Spolin's thought.
Without it one simply gets a collection of 'games' that are ponderously cross referenced. (And a big so what.) It'll gather dust on the bookshelf as a 'reference work'
Here's a secret: Spolin was far less concerned with the comedy audience suggestion improv theater ( Second City notwithstanding.) Her main concern was training actors.
(Her influence has been vastly underestimated, e.g; Meisner trained actors should check out her "Preocupation A" exercise. You'll get deja vu. And Spolin came first.)
She took one of Stanislavsky's best idea, "Concentration of Attention" and ran with it. She created the credo of POC (point of concentration) and 'sidecoached' the players into weaving magic . . .
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Modern Theatrical Benchmark April 7 2002
It is important to realize, before purchasing "Improvisation for the Theater," that it will not teach you the silly games and clownish humor you see on "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" Funny though many people find that show, it bears only a shirt-tail relationship to improvisation as Viola Spolin conceived of the concept.
First of all, she probably would have been horrified to discover that many people now regard improvisation and comedy synonymous. In her system, improvisation could have been comedic, tragic, surrealistic, or anything in between. The label hung on the performance was secondary to its quality, consistency, and depth.
In this, Spolin's classic textbook (newly updated and expanded by her son and daughter-in-law, her intellectual executors and heirs), she lays down the ins and outs of improvisation for performance. Activities listed in this book are designed to conduct a full workshop for improvisational actors. There are games listed for absolute beginners, orienting them to the demands of the stage, so there is no false expectation of prior experience. The games, moreover, are almost all adaptable to all ages, so a children's workshop won't feel you're going over their heads, and an adult workshop won't feel they're being condescended to.
The chapters are arranged in the sequence Spolin felt would be most efficient in creating a fully-dimensional improve show that would capture audience attention and be satisfying for all involved. Not everyone will agree that this is the best sequence, and with a little time and consideration, the games can be reordered to suit an individual director's tastes. However, this should be undertaken with care -- many people have used this workshop pattern very effectively for over forty years with great success and enjoyment.
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Obviously, it would be optimal if one could work in a workshop that put this book up on its feet. That way the teacher/director could experience many of these games and technique building excersises first hand, thereby making them even more vibrant and clear.
That said, this third edition is extremely practical, detailed and very clearly written as it lays out hundreds of excersises which build not only acting technique, but group integrity as well. Spolin was a gifted teacher and director and her nearly seventy years of experience in the theatre pays great dividends to all who dare to follow in her footsteps,
Even more helpful than the vast multitude of improvisational activities is her advice to the director of the scripted play. Like William Ball's A Sense of Direction (also a must have!) she stresses the importance of building the positive environment and details specific strategies on how to make it happen.
This is a phenomenal resource for all teachers, students, actors and directors.
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