Chances are, you’ve heard that it’s important to have improv on your resume. But why?

You’re probably thinking “I’m a serious actor. I don’t do comedy. How can just making stuff up possibly help me when I have lines to deliver?

Well, for starters, by teaching you that acting IS improvisation. Because LIFE is improvisation.

Think about it. We go through life improvising. We have no idea what will happen from one moment to the next. We act. We react. Spontaneously. Then we pick up a script for a scene. Memorize every last word. Relentlessly rehearse every aspect of it. And then wonder why or performance comes off lifeless.

Of course. improv comes naturally to some. But for most of us mere mortals, it requires work, at first at least. To overcome varying degrees of shyness. And usually, to overcome a natural need for control. To exercise new muscles— listening with focus, generosity and humility. Specifically, improv will help you to:

1. Embrace your inner child.
Regardless of the role you are called upon to audition for, improv will enable you to bring a sense of playfulness to your performance. But what if the part is dark, disturbing even? Then, rather than playful, think danger. Or mischief. Point is, you are PLAYING a part, in an imaginary situation, So PLAY. Have FUN. Enjoy playing every role. Seriously.

2. Accept Direction. Embrace it.
Of course you come to every audition prepared to play the part a certain way. But then, the casting director asks you to try it differently. Completely opposite, even. Or scarier still, asks you to recreate the role in a completely unexpected way, requiring maximum creativity on your part. What to do? You could freeze. And well, that’d be the end of that. Or, with the help of improv training, you could display what they’re really looking for— adaptability. And get the part.

3. Immerse Yourself in the Moment.
The key to delivering someone else’s words, not just believably, but establishing a true emotional connections that are genuine and authentic, is to react like you’ve never spoken those words, or heard other actors’ words before. Essentially improvising using a script. And to do that requires you to be in the moment, every moment. Improv teaches you that.

At its core, improv IS what all acting must be—working off what everyone else is doing, making your colleagues look good, building any strong idea and shift the focus away from you.

Basically, IMPROV works this:
OFFER – ACCEPTANCE – BUILD (repeat endlessly)
It couldn’t be simpler— when you’re offered something, you accept it and BUILD, and your BUILD is an offer back to the other person.

4. Work Without a Net.
Any great actor is a risk-taker at heart. Making bold, unexpected choices. Constantly surprising. At every level— from the audition through rehearsal to the show’s final performance. The secret is free experimentation. And the key to that is giving yourself permission to fail. Improv forces you to take risks you otherwise wouldn’t, having advance warning of what is coming. The foundational principal of improv is that there is no such thing as a mistake, which creates an unconditionally supportive, collaborative environment. So, as you can see, training to take risks in improv will enable you to successfully take bigger risks in your auditioning. In your acting.

5. Work with Complete Confidence.
You’ll be amazed at the difference you’ll feel, the difference others will see, the difference proven in results— in parts won, after just a few weeks of improv training. You’ll audition better. You’ll see your confidence level skyrocket. And you’ll have more fun.

6. Think less. Perform more convincingly.
Funny thing about scripts. They have a way of becoming roadblocks. Distracting attention away from working in the moment, by causing you to focus more on what’s on the page than on making real connections with your partners in the scene. The less than optimal result of this is a flat, lifeless, robotic delivery. Improv will help bring seamless fluidity to your delivery of every word, and make you more at ease the words of others. Funny how easy reciting words off a script will seem after having to create your own dialogue on the spot.

7. Communicate Inclusively.
Acting is a uniquely iterative process. Requiring collaboration from everyone involved. All the way down to the Best Boy. Nothing will enhance your communications skills quite like improv. Which will help you strengthen your bonds with everyone, starting with the Casting Director who’s going to give you the job.

Bottom line, in a business where you never know what’s coming, improv positions you perfectly for spontaneous success. You need improv on your resume. And if you don’t have it, you need to get it.

Do it, and you’ll get more work. More work will get you more work. (Repeat repeatedly).

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