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Impro for Storytellers (Theatre Arts (Routledge Paperback)) [Paperback]

by Keith Johnstone
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 24, 1999 9780878301058 978-0878301058 1
Impro for Storytellers is the follow-up to Keith Johnstone's classic Impro, one of the best-selling books ever published on improvisation. Impro for Storytellers aims to take jealous and self-obsessed beginners and teach them to play games with good nature and to fail gracefully.

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Impro for Storytellers (Theatre Arts (Routledge Paperback)) + Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre + Improvise.: Scene from the Inside Out
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Editorial Reviews


Many of these scribblings are gems... [Johnstones] discussion... is of enormous value not only for improvisors, but for playwrights trying to bring something new to the stage... This is not to be missed... A display of the fitful fireworks of an original mind. -- Stagebill Theatre
With this in mind, I honour the seminal writing of Keith Johnstone in the field of improvisation and the great care that he has taken to share, teach and explore his Theatresports theories with drama and acting students, practitioners, researchers and audiences worldwide. -- Research in Drama Education
Impro for Storytellers provides the necessary theoretical underpinning to conceptualise and put into practice improvised forms in a manner that will enhance student learning, and facilitate sound drama pedagogy. -- Research in Drama Education
Johnstones work is as important a contributions to the theatre, actors and drama education as Viola Spolin, Uta Hagen, Gavin Bolton, or Dorothy Heathcote. -- Research in Drama Education
Impro for Storytellers...display(s) the brilliance of Johnstones writing, and his highly accessible style, formatted in a variety of manners ranging from personal narratives, teacher/student dialogues, directorial rants and reflective musings to strategic lesson planning, rationale and uncomplicated illustrations of numerous actor or student activities. -- Research in Drama Education
The book has the potential to be an invaluable resource for teachers, instructors, or directors who have a desire to expand their own understanding of improvised forms, as well as being a superb primer to help augment the repertoire of the student, actor, or performer. -- Research in Drama Education

About the Author

Keith Johnstone worked at the Royal Court Theatre in the 1960s where he developed his techniques for improvisational work. He now teaches at the University of Calgary.

Product Details

  • Series: Theatre Arts (Routledge Paperback)
  • Paperback: 388 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (June 24, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780878301058
  • ISBN-13: 978-0878301058
  • ASIN: 0878301054
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #310,609 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Handbook for practitioners July 25, 2001
Keith Johnstone's earlier work, IMPRO, has influenced and will continue to influence the way acting and improvisation for the theatre are taught. IMPRO is a book not only about theatre and improv, but about teaching and human interaction, loaded with insights making that book highly suitable for the general reader.
This follow-up is more specialized: a handbook for putting IMPRO into practice, including detailed improv structures for performance and for rehearsal, and chapters on how to teach these games. Sample run lists and notes from performances impart Johnstone's experiences, trials and errors over many years teaching in several countries. The book is exhaustive and beautifully written, but for the general reader, IMPRO is more appropriate.
One disappointment about the book is some sloppy copy-editing. It is rife with typos, of the sort that are not picked out by a computer spell-checker since the typos form actual words.
The title IMPRO FOR STORYTELLERS is, as Tim Sheppard pointed out below, potentially misleading. This is not a book that will help a solo performer generate material, though some of the exercises within can be translated for that purpose. Johnstone's concern is that improv not be restricted to a form of "light entertainment" (think "Who's Line Is It Anyway?"), but as a way of generating narrative and using it to explore human relationships.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Second Coming of Keith... January 20, 2000
This book, in contrast with his last one, is much more linear and down-to-earth, but every bit as powerful. He dives straight into 'how-to' mode, decribing his own version of improv theater. This might be a little tedious for those not interested in licencing a "Theatersports" venue in their own town, but hang in there. He quickly gets to the meat of simply creating good improv, what behaviours and actions get you there, and how to sustain it. This is a book 100% designed to assist the improviser, both the individual, as well as the 'group'. He even goes so far as to provide shortcut lists in the appendix for use in performance! Keith Johnstone is a visonary, and I'm convinced that whatever theater will look like in the coming years, he will have inspired much of it.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Not many practical manuals are also fun to just read, but this one is - funny, incisive, witty, philosophical and more. It is tremendously useful in many ways. I'm involved in applying impro, but not for Theatre Sports or comedy impro, yet this book is invaluable. My only annoyance is that it should be called Storytelling for Improvisors instead. If you are a storyteller hoping to learn how to improvise stories, this book will not address that directly for you, although if you absorb all the insight you'll get a lot of practical help. Johnstone's comments and analysis are very thought provoking, and reveal a great deal about human nature and the way our minds (and inhibitions) work. Any psychologist could learn a lot here too. If you are after a bumper book of games, go no further - this details a large number, but also with expert advice on how to teach and run the games, including warnings about all the variations that don't work.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Improv manual out there December 14, 1999
This book should be every improvisers bible. As if Impro wasn't enough, Johnstone's new book focuses solely on improv, while his last dealt a great deal with his personal past and teachings. Johnstone describes tons of incredible short-form games, which could all be used in developing a long-form troupes unity and confidence. There is not much else to say, but if you consider yourself an improviser this book should live on your bedstand.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth the read December 29, 1999
Johnstone's new book Impro for Storytellers does pick up where his last book leaves off. He gives us a good picture of what 'his' Impro should look like. Then he give a huge amount of excersises and games to play. I give this book only 4 stars because I am fundamentally opposed to training actors in front of an audience. Had it not been for this prejudice and a few other idealogical differences I would have given it 5 stars. Once again, it is lucid, clear, and a necessary manual for any teacher of acting or improvisation. If you perform in a version of Johnstone's Theatersports you have a new bible for improv.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly Useful September 5, 2006
By Sydney
This is quite a large book, pretty much entirely made up of a wide variety of games for actors with vivid examples of what students come up with under pressure, and thorough explanations of the goal of each excercise. It's extremely well written and just as good as something to sit down and read, as something to get up and play with.

The games range from easy to very hard; many would make excellent fun warm-ups to introduce non-actors to basic acting theory and to interacting with an audience. What makes this book unusual for an acting text is the emphasis on story, and the highly audience-centric approach to performance.

I would seriously recommend this book to writers, screenwriters, and story artists. The ultimate goal for Johnstone is to teach his improvisers to hook the audience and keep them hooked by altering tactics, reversing, raising the stakes, setting up expectations. Throughout, his unexpected cry of "Be obvious! Don't be creative!" keeps the story being invented on an engaging emotional level.

I bought this because I'm teaching a class involving some acting, but found so many exciting ideas for plotting I want to send a copy to everyone I know in story. First rate.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This man is brillaint
This book is fantastic if you want to persue Impro. The first one - "Impro" everyone in the world should read whereas this one is far more of a handbook for those of us who want to... Read more
Published on March 6, 2008 by Ms. A. Standish
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Improv Guide Around
If you're going to read only one book about improvisation, read this. If you read two books, wait a month or two and read this again. Read more
Published on September 8, 2007 by Michael Z. Stones
5.0 out of 5 stars What I've been waiting for!
I've used Keith's Impro for several years, and this book is just what I've been looking for! It gives the kind of details I've been for to use in my classes and performances.
Published on June 1, 2007 by Charlie Holliday
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Improv Reading!
I thought that Keith Johnstone's first book "Impro" was the best book on Improv -- until I read this. Read more
Published on January 9, 2004 by Douglas B. Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite how-to book on writing!
Johnstone points out the importance of storytelling rhythm, and how to maintain it through dozens of exercises (meant for actors) to show how we naturally short-circuit it through... Read more
Published on December 21, 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Improv manual out there
This book should be every improvisers bible. As if Impro wasn't enough, Johnstone's new book focuses solely on improv, while his last dealt a great deal with his personal past and... Read more
Published on December 14, 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars This book picks up where Impro leaves off. It's Great
I co-direct and improv school and performance group and have found Keith's new ideas and new spins on old ideas very helpful.
Published on September 24, 1999 by David Patterson (
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