XVR27's Whose Improv Is It Anyway? Page - Improv's Educational Benefits: An Essay
Whose Improv Is It Anyway? : Original On-The-Spot Satire
"Improv's Educational Benefits: An Essay" (2003)
by Russell Brian Weiser
Improvisational acting has always been an activity of wit and humor.
Some people just watch improv while others prefer to participate.
Sometimes done for entertainment and sometimes done for enjoyment, improv
is easy enough for people who've never heard of it, yet it can still be
challenging to the most experienced expert. Improv, however, is not just
all fun and games; it can be educational as well.
The most obvious (and direct) educational potential of improv can be
tapped into through direct connection. Prompts, as
well as original improv games, can tie in directly to any number of
various subjects. Character prompts and scenario prompts can be set to
historical (or contemporary) figures and settings to "experience" those
situations. Topic prompts and written prompts can be restricted to
subject tie-ins with any subject. Being able to act out ideas or become
characters also adds the additional benefit of making people (and
situations) come alive, which can help the educator maintain class
interest, even for the most droll of subjects.
Not all of the educational benefits that can be attributed to
improvisational acting are quite so obvious. Some advantages have a more
subtle, yet still long-term, effect. Participating in improv, just as
with any other type of task, it becomes a force of habit to focus on what
you are about to do. Improvisational acting requires a heightened sense
of focus to be successful, especially since distractions will hinder
reaction time and, quite possibly, the range of responses that would
otherwise become available.
Focusing is not enough in improv, however, as it goes hand in hand with
quick thinking. Without knowing what lies ahead, an improv actor has to
keep on their toes. Because of this aspect, improv promotes quicker
thinking and better memory access for material to utilize. Increasing a
person's speed of thought, though a byproduct, can be very beneficial in
all aspects of a person's life.
The more you practice at a task (such as improv), the better and more
successful you get at it. Regular acting tasks provide a script, which
(besides memorization) requires creativity only in the manner through
which the script is presented. Improv acting lends itself to original
creativity not just in the manner through which the dialogue is
presented, but also in the dialogue itself. This outlet for creativity
provides the perfect opportunity, especially for educators, to "burn off
some steam" - it allows students to exhibit their ideas and act out their
stories in an official, as well as intentional, outlet instead of acting
them out or discussing them in class when the time and circumstance is
The main focus of improv acting (besides the humor) is, of course, the
acting. Performing in front of others - be it in acting, music, teaching,
sports, or speaking - can be a nerve-racking ordeal. Everyone ends up
performing in front of others in their lifetime (even if it just a boss or
supervisor). Practicing public performing by participating in events that
have a light, laid-back atmosphere to them can make more stressful
situations become that much less intense and worrysome. Because improv
contains a varied set of rules and performance guidelines, nobody that
participates is ever "right" or "wrong". Even those who completely blank
can turn it into a source for humor and learning by hearing how the
others react to what was said.
An additional benefit to improv acting (especially in large groups that
include people from different locations, backgrounds, and walks of life)
is the exposure to new ideas and perspectives. The sharing of knowledge
that occurs naturally in improv acting helps to expand horizons and allow
those participating to opened up to whole new worlds. The musical,
games, especially, help by providing exposure to (as well as insight
into) the arts. A person just watching a game of Narrate,
for example, might get them interested in film noir, and thus might be
exposing them to a whole new world, the likes of which they have never
Any way you look at it, improv has a number of educational benefits.
Aside from the generalities that have been mentioned above, each
individual game has its own potential for an education experience that can
provide both long-term and short-term advantages. In truth, everyone
benefits - the participants receive a wide variety of of learning
experiences while spectators who watch the performances are, at the very
least, mildly entertained. Hopefully, in the end, everyone can leave with
at least a few new friends with whom they will enjoy future experiences.
1a Educational Tie-Ins
1b Maintains Class Interest
2- Focused Thoughts
3- Quick Thinking / Speed Of Though / Memory Access
4a Outlet For Creativity
4b Energy Tie-In
5a Public Performing
5b Lessens The Fear Of Failure
6a Expanded Horizons / New Perspectives / Sharing Of Knowledge
6b Exposure To The Arts
7- Conclusion / Everyone Benefits / Making Friends
If you'd like to contact this website:
PLEASE NOTE : This site is NOT officially affiliated with either "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" series.
to return to the Improv Main Site.
to return to the Hotel XVR27's Humor Floor.