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4.8 out of 5 stars
Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre
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Showing 1-10 of 20 reviews(5 star)show all reviews
on February 21, 2015
Exactly what I was looKing for!
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on August 6, 2004
Keith Johnstone is nothing less than brilliant. This book inspires, challenges, and moves me to do more. Admittedly, sometimes Johnstone is on a wee bit of a story, but that is the spirit of the man who has given so much to the art form of improv. In this text lay the nuggets of much improv wisdom.
Johnstone, Spolin, Sills, Close, Napier... the gurus of the form.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 26, 2002
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. If theatre is a search for truth, then Johnstone exemplifies this with a fundamentalist's zeal.
Eschewing formula and "how to" guides, he presents improvisation on the stage as less of a craft and more a state of mind. His "bookending" of his practical advice with an angry account of his time spent as a teacher at the beginning of the book and his work on masks and trance in the last section underlines this.
Johnstone's book is a must for anybody wanting to improvise effectively on a stage, anyone wanting to use drama as a teaching or therapeutic tool, and an essential for anybody interested in the practical exploration of the subconscious mind and its workings.
It's a manual for creativity. It's an essential for an artist in any discipline. No: scrub the majority of that sentence. It's an essential, period.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2002
I suggest that you follow Amazon's recommendation and buy it with the acompanying sequel "Impro for Storytellers"
Hmm...Let's see:
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)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 22, 2001
to study with Keith at the University of Calgary and to work with him at the Loose Moose Theater, and it had a tremendous impact on my life. His approach to education, to theater, to life all has a very liberating effect. This book carries a great deal of his spirit. It plants a terrific garden in your mind; some of the seeds sprout quickly while others may take a very long time to grow. This is a great book, for more reasons than I can say.
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on June 19, 2001
Keith Johnstone's book has influenced countless acting classes. Many artists who have not yet heard of this book are doing exercises based on his experiments in England with actors using improvisation to discover status operations within a scene, narrative structure, and the importance of structure and process over "content" (a sticking point for the improvisator, the public speaker, and everyone who has ever said, 'I can't think of anything.') It also provides one of the best short introductions to mask work around. So it might seem like an indispensable theatre book. And it is that. Indispensable.
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.
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on December 27, 2000
This book is the absolute bible of improv and acting. Keith Johnstone takes you step by step through his approach to teaching. The exercises he uses really work to get our intellects out of the way of our creativity.
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!
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on May 17, 2000
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 benefit from the wisdom held within these pages. As we cross in to a new millenium with questions about "Where do we go from here?" it would be wise to begin the search within ourselves. This book, in a clear and humorous way, leads the reader on an engaging voyage of self-discovery and provides various keys to unlocking the long-dormant imagination. It's a treat!
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on December 29, 1999
Johnstone's book is one of the two or three books in the field of Improvisational Theater that is a must read. I don't subscribe to all that is written in this book, but his insights and ideas are brillant and lucid. The book is easy to read, and something that should be re-read. Johnstone focuses on ideas more than excersises. There are many excersises in this book, but they must be dug out and re-formulated to make them workable. This book is a necessary read in order to build a solid improvisation foundation.
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on November 19, 1999
This is essential reading for anyone on the Drama and Education Course at Central!
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