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Improvisation Exercises to Hone Your Acting Skills

Pankaj Chobharkar
Improvisation exercises are meant to boost creativity, concentration, and confidence of an artist. Here, we will give you more details about such exercises to enhance your acting skills to a greater extent.
Simply put, improvisation is, performing an art form spontaneously. It can be theater, music, dance, creative writing, etc. It also gives the performer a nice warm-up. In the theater, exercises for improvisation are more focused on improving the spontaneity of the actor. Here are some improvisational exercises for actors.

Exercises for Actors

The Improvisational theater has developed into a separate branch of theater. It has the actors performing spontaneously, taking inspiration from the surroundings or suggestions from the audience.
It is also used to convey acting techniques to the actors. A very popular television adaptation of this theater style is the TV series, Whose Line Is It Anyway?. Following are some improvisational techniques for actors.

Guess Who

This is a simple exercise that will boost the spontaneity of the actors immensely. It has to be done in pairs. Actor 'A' is asked to wait outside the room, while actor 'B' is asked to come up with a character and prepare to play it. Now, actor 'A' comes back into the room. He has to guess what character actor 'B' has assumed and react accordingly.

JAM (Just A Minute)

This drama activity will stimulate the imagination power of the actors by a great deal. Write down a few interesting topics on small pieces of paper, fold them and put them into a bowl.
Now, every actor will come on stage, pick one topic from the bowl, think about it for a minute and then talk on the topic he has got, for one full minute. It will also work well against stage fear.

So Convincing

This exercise has to be done in pairs. One of the actors plays a costumer and the other is a sales or marketing executive. The costumer has to be a skeptical person, and doubt every scheme or product proposed by the sales person.
The sales person has to convince the customer and he cannot use any negative words. All of his sentences should start with yes, but... or you are right, but...

Alphabetical Exercise

This exercise is a lot of fun and will help actors shed their inhibitions. Create a scene by taking a random situation. The first actor should begin his first dialog with the letter 'A', then the next actor should start his dialog with the letter 'B' and so on.
If any actor falters, he is eliminated, and the game continues with remaining actors. The actor who doesn't make a single mistake till the end wins the game.

Go Mute

Make two teams, 'A' and 'B', and call one person from each team on the stage. Team 'A' representative will give a famous quote or a word to the team 'B' representative.
Now, Team 'B' representative has to convey this word or quote to his teammates, through acting and without lip movements or actual talking. The exercise gives the actors ample scope for using expressions and body language to convey their point.

Split Personality

Two actors stand facing each other, as if standing in front of a mirror. One actor starts talking whatever comes to his mind, with a particular emotion. The other actor also has to start with the exact opposite emotion. For example, if one actor says something with a happy mood, the other says something with a sad mood.
The motive of all these exercises is to make the actors more comfortable and confident on the stage. These exercises also help you get acquainted with all the important elements of drama. You can experiment with the earlier given exercises as much as you want, and come up with your own exercises.