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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on February 9, 2017
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on December 27, 2016
The book itself is a classic! I have zero complaints about the content as I think every drama teacher should own it! My issue is that is was forced into a box that was too small and the entire book is bent. There are actually fold marks in it that make reading super annoying. I'm a busy lady so I did not return it. Packing a book should not ruin it!
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on April 4, 2016
I read this book on the advice of a friend. As someone with very little acting experience I found his theories interesting and could picture the value but had nothing to connect them to, practically.
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on March 20, 2016
Excellent Book on Improv. I bought this book for my son and he just loves it.
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on February 21, 2015
Exactly what I was looKing for!
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on June 16, 2009
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 "Whys".

This is a very enlightening book, but I feel it is too heavy for the everyday improvisor. A very large amount is focused on status. The subtleties of status are interesting to read about, but the text suffers from being TOO thorough. In addition, only about 1/20th of the final section (about Masks and Trance) were helpful to me.

All this aside, it is a very interesting book to discover what works, and more improtantly WHY. Knowing why something works will allow you to discover new ways of performing.

Recommended.
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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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on May 15, 2003
I'm not an actor, have no experience of improvisational theatre (not even seen any!), but I loved this book. A fascinating glimpse into a highly creative and original mind, and funny as heck, especially the section on Status. This book would be of interest to teachers, particularly those teaching arts (including but not limited to language arts).
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on June 2, 2002
Impro is divided in four sections, Status, Spontaneity, Narrative Skills, and Masks and Trance. The most interesting section, Status, discusses how general physical attitudes dictate our attitude and how other people see us. Johnstone expounds his idea that all relationships are plays on status. His other chapters are more technical and discuss various theater exercises meant to stimulate spontaneity and narrative skills.
This book is difficult to judge. On the one hand, it is very challenging and engages us with interesting ideas, especially about status and power relations. But the last chapter in particular is replete with paranormal and new age nonsense - hypnosis, trances, aborigene religions, everything gets thrown in the mix. Johnstone's attitude towards education is also surprisingly outdated for a 1981 book : he keeps harping on educational attitudes which belong in the fifties. Johnstone is obviously a very superficial and linear-thinking man.
I suppose the recommendation would have to be based on whenever one works in the theater or not. If the former, then this book will no doubt be of great help, if one can ignore the nonsense : otherwise there is little recommend this book.
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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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