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What is Improvisation?

“Most of us are prepared to take risks in exact proportion to how much we trust in the outcome. Improvisation training gives participants the skills and the confidence to take bigger risks and aim for bigger and better outcomes”.

Improvisation has a long history in theatre, dating back at least 500 years to Commedia dell’arte. The term improvisation can be traced back to the Latin word Improviso meaning not seen before.

The theatre games that we now associate with modern-day improvisation were developed early in the 20th century by Viola Spolin (1906 – 94) who was a theatre academic, educator and acting coach. Through her work she was very successful in affecting the social behavior of inner-city and immigrant children.

Spolin strongly emphasized the need for the individual to overcome what she called "The Approval/Disapproval Syndrome," which she describe as the performer blocking their own natural creativity in an effort to please the audience, director, teacher, peers or anyone else
Improvisation is a performance practice that animates and activates diverse energies of inspiration, critique and invention. She wrote a series of books for actors and educators outlining her principles of Improvisation of which she said

“Theater Games are a process applicable to any field, discipline, or subject matter which creates a place where full participation, communication, and transformation can take place.”

In other words, anyone can earn how to improvise. And you don’t have to be an actor to do it.

Improvisation provokes and promotes; active listening, humility, collaboration and interactivity, dexterity around developing fresh ideas, intuition, inductive discovery, verbal and non-verbal communication, agility and confidence towards in the moment responses, role-playing skills, team building, creative /critical thinking and active engagement in other people’s ideas. Into adulthood, we can easily lose touch with the inquiry, risk taking and invention we had as young children. Improvisation helps us address this loss.