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Improvise.: Scene from the Inside Out [Paperback]

Mick Napier
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 25 2007 032500630X 978-0325006307 1

For more than 20 years of directing, teaching, and participating in improvisation, Mick Napier has watched thousands of scenes. His experience as founder of the acclaimed Annoyance Theatre/Annoyance Productions, as well as Resident Director and Artistic Consultant for The Second City, has led him to continually question why and how scenes work or don't work and what one must do in order for a scene to be successful.

In this book, Napier takes an irreverent, but constructive look at the art and practice of improvised scenes. He covers such topics as:

  • two-person scenes
  • group scenes
  • entering scenes
  • techniques to achieve richer, more layered scenes
  • auditioning
  • solo exercises for practice at home.
Napier also challenges the conventional wisdom of the rules of improvisation, examining what's behind them and how they came to be in the first place.

Get helpful, tangible guidelines for bringing strength and direction to your scenes. Just Improvise.

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Product Description

About the Author

Mick Napier is the founder of the acclaimed Annoyance Theatre/Annoyance Productions, as well as Resident Director and Artistic Consultant for The Second City. He lives in Chicago.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Praise from a cynic April 27 2004
Improv books tend to fall into three categories:
(1) New ideas poorly articulated (Improvisation for the Theatre for example - the bible of improv that is impossible to read cover to cover)
(2) Books that cover old ground in an easy to read way that is effective for someone trying to learn improv (Keith's second book, my own book: The Ultimate Improv Book [hopefully ;>])
(3) Books with 'improv' in the title that are more collections of games or (worse) exercise-teaching plans without any learning outcomes.
This book does not fall into any of those categories. I'm amazed it was published.
It's a book for people who already know improvisation. But Mick argues that the most accepted ways to teach improvisation are not only ineffective, they are COUNTER effective.
And he makes a great argument.
I had already started on the path he lays out (I've no longer teach 'blocking' off the top, instead concentrating on reducing fear and encouraging failure), but I have not gone nearly as far as he suggests (Not teaching blocking ever). It's a bold step and I am going to try it in the next class I teach.
In short, who should buy this book?
(1) If you are already an improviser. You've been trained (somewhere) and are looking for a challenging new way to look at your crafty
(2) You are an instructor who is looking for a new way to teach (not new games, but new principles)
Who should also buy this book:
(1) If you are buying your first improv book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'll be rereading this for years Nov. 15 2007
From the point of view of a beginning improviser who's taken introductory courses and has a bit of performing experience: I love this book. This is the first book I've read since Impro that has something exciting to say on every single page.

For me, the difference is that Impro has a lot theory, but Improvise suggests good practice, and I personally think that these suggestions complement (rather than contradict) current improv "dogma". The icing on the cake is the section on solo improv exercises (since, unfortunately, not everyone is crazy about improv).
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3.0 out of 5 stars Insightful, But Cynical May 25 2004
By A Customer
This book has an "Annoyance Theatre" feel to it-it's fresh and insightful, and seductively anti-establishment. The author serves up a cynical new spin on old improv technique, and even slams improv's "old guard" in the process.
If you're a sassy, cynical improviser who knows everything (which includes every improviser on earth) you'll be hypnotized by the book's "bleeding edge" tone.
But the rebellious "us vs. them" tenor of Napier's book is so sexy, so enticing, that you may miss the irony: Napier slams the improv establishment, (but he *is* the establishment, having formed his own theatre, and having lead Second City to a rebirth.) Napier thwarts the concept of formal technique and methodology, (but then proceeds to lay down his *own*.) Napier dismisses old improv rules as observation-turned-dogma, (but then serves up several pages of his *own* observations.) Sure, the advice is great, but why does he still talk like Sparticus leading a slave rebellion? He's already king. The enemy is imaginary.
IMPROVISATION does fall short as a complete reference. It ends up being more like a book of "best practices for seasoned improvisers." New improvisers will end up feeling like they just got kicked in the junk.
I wish this book shared his real anti-establishment vision:
x What's the next wave for this art form?
x What is improv's future impact on the theatre, TV and other scripted media?
x Is there any way to unite the improv theatre community, rather than divide it into "us vs. them?"
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So, you know all "the rules," you've been improvising for years, you think you know all you need to know, and yet you find your work stagnant?
This book will help you re-examine why and how you improvise. Mick Napier is quite simply the finest improv instructor today. He's taken the torches of Del Close and Martin DeMaat and is moving improvisation forward. If you think Spolin, Halpern and Johnstone wrote all that can be written about improv, you're sadly mistaken.
This is, quite frankly, the best hands-on guide to improvisation you will ever read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I'm glad Mick Napier didn't become a Vet Aug. 6 2004
By M.K.
This book just arrived this afternoon. I sat down and began reading and didn't stop until it was finished. Napier is brilliant. I needed to be challenged and pushed and somehow - amazingly- he has done it through the written word.
Written for those with a solid improv base, Napier challenges everything I thought I knew and shows me how much more I have to learn. Buy this book, but only if you are ready to move from your comfort zone. I am SO glad Napier did NOT become a vet because otherwise, we would not have this little gem of a book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars a guide for a fantastic voyage of improvising March 31 2009
A fabulous book for meeting you where you're frozen in your mind and guiding you out through vivid examples and clear explanation! The exercises limber up the thinking for a fantastic voyage through the rabbit hole, rather than the tangle in the brier patch we often encounter while learning improvisation. Thank you Mick Napier for articulating the thought process, and providing ways of identifying our blocks so we can move beyond them!!
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