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Improvisation for the Theater

4.25 of 5 stars 4.25  ·  rating details  ·  325 ratings  ·  20 reviews
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
Paperback, Third Edition, 412 pages
Published July 28th 1999 by Northwestern University Press (first published 1963)
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(showing 1-30 of 840)
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Robyn Sayles
My improv training has helped me more in my life and my career than most of my formal training. Spolin is the master.
An amazing resource, essential for any teacher of theatre or director of amateur theatre. Spolin has a system, perfected from years of experience, for taking actors of any age and polishing the rough qualities from performance. The idea is to present problems that directly challenge the actor to come up with organic solutions, therefore teaching by experience rather than through lecture or rote repetition of dogmatic ideas. The focus is on improvisational theatre, but these improvisational activ ...more
Alex Gordon
this is a must read on the subject. So many exercises in here. Wow! just thinking about it makes me want to start up an improv group to try them all!!! :)
For an Activity Course I will be teaching next year.

After it was stolen, I never got it back, however I got enough information out of it to know that this is for a very intense and serious improvisation class. Not exactly what I needed it for. Some of the ideas were great and translated to other games that I knew, but most of these are too focus-driven for my purposes. Read only if you are looking to teach serious actors serious Improv.
While much of the book isn't directly applicable to long-form, Spolin's general philosophy of improv and her notes on pedagogy and performance (the "93 Commandments") are some of the most relevant insights into what I see today. Every performer, director, and teacher should at least read that section.
For CTAR 323 Improvising and Role Play class reading

Viola Spolin dedicated this book to her drama teacher, Neva Boyd (Handbook of Recreational Games)
I appreciate the appendixes on definition of key terms, side-coaching phrases, new exercises and traditional games. It's very useful for ESL class.
Reading this is like reading some of the books in the old testament. This guy begat him who begat that fella who begat a group of dudes. It's more of a reference book, and it's very '60s touchie feelie but still has some great stuff.
Bruce Snyder
I used this to devise my own theater class back in the early 80's. I still use it today when I do workshops for the music camp and Pied Piper summer camps. The first edition was useful; I haven't seen the 1999 version.
Mary Louise
Viola really knows her stuff. Her 96-page list of Reminders and Pointers should be memorized by heart, or better, copied and distributed to everyone, art directors and bosses of every stripe.
Jan 19, 2009 Kerry rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Improv
Recommended to Kerry by: Players Workshop, Second City
This is one of my reference books, which I keep on hand when I feel I need a refresher. Definitely is a great companion to the Second City training program.
Jul 25, 2008 Jane rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Improvisors, theater people
I learned so much from this book. As a teacher and director its a must have on your bookshelf.
Aug 07, 2007 Bryan marked it as to-read
Something to add to my Someday/Maybe list: Take an improv comedy class.
Brian Hischier
You can judge the book by the vest the author is wearing on the cover.
The "bible" of improv and learning the ways of the greats.
Dave Cotton
A valuable resource for my teaching.
Pretty technical for a lay person.

Mar 07, 2007 Bo rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: thegood
She's Brilliant
Very good
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“Everyone can act. Everyone can improvise. Anyone who wishes to can play in the theater and learn to become stageworthy.” 3 likes
“Through spontaneity we are re-formed into ourselves.” 1 likes
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