Improv within theatre is typically considered as a supplemental course rather than the main event, and as such tend to not have as much dedication from the students. However, improv is an incredibly valuable skill to know. Those who learn improv develop the ability to let loose, make more (and perhaps even better) character choices, and those who struggle with public speaking will become better equipped. However, within improv there do lie eleven basic rules that help you get the most out of every class.
1. Supporting Actors
This one is quite self-explanatory; the actors should support each other throughout the skit (and hopefully afterwards!), without completely taking over it or never contributing to it.
2. Yes and…
Instead of saying a simple yes or no to an idea someone provides during a skit, make sure to say yes to an idea and then expand upon it. Example: “Look at that robot dog!” “Yeah, and its even dancing!”
3. Third Thoughts
When given a prompt (such as “Scrooge”), you should go with the third thought that brings (Duck Tales, Adventurers, Indiana Jones) and you run with that third thought. Its meant to make your skits more creative and inventive than simply reenacting the A Christmas Carol.
This is like “Yes and…” Where you have to focus on
5. Statements, not questions
Within a skit, you have to make sure not to overload others with an abundance of questions. You are not interrogating anyone, so you don’t need anyone to answer a billion questions. (Instead of putting all the pressure on the other actor to come up with every answer from the top of their head)
6. Establish Relationship
Establish the relationship between you and the other actors (for example, calling another actor “Mom” makes them your mother, or calling another your nemesis.)
7. Establish Location
8. Trust your impulses and fellow actors
Trust your instincts when acting (if you feel as though jumping around like a chicken adds to the scene, do it!) and trust others (if they decide to jump around like a chicken, roll with it and trust that they are adding to the scene).
9. No cocktailing
This happens often in a scene, when everyone has something to say so they all speak over each other. It's best to avoid this altogether and simply allow everyone the opportunity to speak.
Although it may be tempting to tune out your fellow actors while trying to make the scene into your vision, make sure to listen to their input and apply it. (For example: If someone says “Wow, this roller coaster is so boring.” Go along with it “Yeah, the only cool thing about it is the view.” Instead of saying “What? We are not on a roller coaster; we are on a submarine.”) Do not completely ignore their input, make the scene extremely confusing.