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Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre [Paperback]

Keith Johnstone
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 7, 1987 0878301178 978-0878301171
First published in 1987. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.

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Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre + Truth in Comedy: The Manual for Improvisation + Improvise.: Scene from the Inside Out
Price for all three: $61.03

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Editorial Reviews


Impro ought to be required reading not only for theatre people generally but also for teachers, educators, and students of all kinds and persuassions. Readers of this book are not going to agree with everything in it; but if they are not challenged by it, if they do not ultimately succumb to its wisdom and whimsicality, they are in a very sad state indeed . . . .Johnstone seeks to liberate the imagination, to cultivate in the adult the creative power of the child . . . .Deserves to be widely read and tested in the classroom and rehearsal hall . . .Full of excellent good sense, actual observations and inspired assetions.
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About the Author

Keith Johnstone is an internationally recognized authority in the field of improvisation. His books Impro, and Impro For Storytellers, have been translated into many languages. He leads master classes in improvisation around the world. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (January 7, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0878301178
  • ISBN-13: 978-0878301171
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.2 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,597 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
58 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a theatre book, but a teacher's manifesto June 19, 2001
Keith Johnstone's book has influenced countless acting classes. Many artists who have not yet heard of this book are doing exercises based on his experiments in England with actors using improvisation to discover status operations within a scene, narrative structure, and the importance of structure and process over "content" (a sticking point for the improvisator, the public speaker, and everyone who has ever said, 'I can't think of anything.') It also provides one of the best short introductions to mask work around. So it might seem like an indispensable theatre book. And it is that. Indispensable.
Yet read Johnstone's first chapter - a memoir of his early teaching career, in which he discovered the process by which children learn to be uncreative as a tragic coping skill. This is not a theatre book. Theatre classes were the arena, but this is a book about teaching! This is about opening doors that have been slammed shut, and acquainting people with the creativity and exuberance that is everybody's birthright. The exercises, and analyses of his students' work with improvisation, along with Johnstone's unflagging faith in every person's imagination, have much to show us even on repeated readings and practice.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Keith Johnstone is a maverick educator and theatrical innovator.
This book, first published in 1979, remains the most important book on improvisation written in English.
Johnstone divides the world of improvising into four categories:Spontenaity, Narrative, Status and Masks.
The stories about his own loss of creativity through the demands of public education set the frame for his illuminating description of what it takes to return us all to our creative selves.
This book is a must read for anyone involved in the creative process, for all teachers of the arts and anyone who has ever wondered where his creativity has gone.
Patricia Ryan,
Head of Acting
Stanford University
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Meaningful stuff, makes you think. June 12, 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was the first improv book that I ever read, and in retrospect I kind of wish I'd read something like Charna Halpern's TRUTH IN COMEDY or Mick Napier's IMPROVISE first. Those books will give you a better introduction to what most of us know of as group improvisation - the "Whose Line is it anyway" sort of thing. They'll give you a better framework to work with.

Keith Johnstone's book, on the other hand, is kind of like a complete rethinking of the Improv framework ... he writes about things I haven't read about anywhere else. And it really made me think about things in a different way.

First of all, I have to admit that the first couple of sections are pretty dry. I had to struggle to get through the section on "Status" ... I was thinking to myself, why did people give this BORING book a good review?? ... I did consider that maybe it's because the man is British (I think), and so the style of writing and the type of humor is a little different than I'm used to.

However, when he gets around to talking about the story/narrative, suddenly there is a flash of brilliance and it all started to make sense ... basically he talks about just letting GO of the things that are inhibiting us, how to stop listening to the voice that is telling us NO all the time ... and, I don't know, there's just something very profound in the way that he discusses it - little insights here and there that are just, for lack of a better word, very MEANINGUL.

For example, he says, of parents and teachers who scold their children, to keep their undesirable 'creativeness' under wraps: "...
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The bible of creativity! Buy this book! December 27, 2000
This book is the absolute bible of improv and acting. Keith Johnstone takes you step by step through his approach to teaching. The exercises he uses really work to get our intellects out of the way of our creativity.
The section on status is extremely useful. As a testament, I used some of them in my beginning improv class and amazing things happened. The class understood and became more aware of how we use status in every moment of our lives. Scenes immediately became more interesting and real. I look forward to the mask activities. The only negative comment I can make is that a few of the exercises were not clearly explained. Johnstone's descriptions, at times, assume previous knowledge of the game being described. This is a book every actor and improver should read. It will expand your creativity and improve your physical awareness onstage. Enjoy it!
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars entertaining and inspiring January 20, 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read most of this in one sitting! It's that engrossing. Mr. Johnstone's writing is very lucid and the anecdotes he provides are illuminating/concise/memorable. The best chapter was about narrative ... it taught me what a story is and isn't. That lesson alone is worth the price of this book.

I'm a novelist but found this to be a better stimulus than most of the "how to write fiction" manuals or writing classes out there. It describes a lot of games one could play to get the creative juices flowing. //Highly// recommend buying this if you're interested in any form of art or creativity.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I've ever read! Do the exercises
Impro isn't just about the theater, it's about life, about the ability to live improvisationally. Read it. Try the exercises out for yourself. Want to have more fun? Read more
Published 1 month ago by Calvin Tolman
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye-opening book, goes beyond theater
Keith Johnstone has a very interesting worldview. This book is clearly aimed at people who want to either learn about improvisational theater, or even moreso people who want to... Read more
Published 2 months ago by mbrock
4.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars for the content - Lost a star because of the poor Kindle...
First, the bad: for almost $30, I would expect a perfect Kindle edition. Not the case: a lot of weird spelling mistakes (probably made by the automatic conversion to the digital... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Guilherme D. Faria
4.0 out of 5 stars Haven't finished it yet but liking it so far
Haven't finished it yet but liking it so far. The author sometimes presents some interesting problems he faced as a teacher without giving or suggesting any solution but other than... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Guilherme de Mello e Silva
5.0 out of 5 stars Improvisation is a Writer's Tool
I first read this book as an introduction to improvisational theater. At the time, I was taking a class in Indian Cinema, and I was surprised to see something like this on the... Read more
Published 5 months ago by MDG
5.0 out of 5 stars the single best book on parenting (yes, parenting!)
I haven't done improv in years, but the lessons from Impro are without a doubt the single biggest influence on the way I raise my (now 3-year-old) daughter. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Joel Grus
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Book
I bought this book based on another book I read by Daniel Pink on to sell is human. This book gives a good overview of Improv theater. It is a bit dated but worth the read.
Published 6 months ago by alan d brodie
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Theater and Life Guide
These improvisations and lessons transcend theater. This compelling book reminds me again and again that all art and life are feasts of the imagination. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Robert McDowell
5.0 out of 5 stars curious book
Impro seems to be the classic book on improvisation theatre, but it is a very enjoyable read for someone with little knowledge (and perhaps interest) in theatre too - first, it... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Laszlo Kozma
5.0 out of 5 stars Way more than improv here
I have so many books on my to read list that it's rare I ever say: I will be re-reading this book many, many times. Why? Read more
Published 10 months ago by Elmae
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