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Comedy Improvisation: Exercises & Techniques for Young Actors Paperback – March 1, 1992
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-- While the numerous and varied acting workshop techniques that Horn has compiled are certainly suited to young actors, his text is not. He begins with an examination of the history and structure of improvisational comedy, then works his way through five chapters of exercises that demand increasing levels of expertise. A series of posed, black-and-white performance photographs detract from the authenticity of the work. Additionally, much of the same ground--Mirror, Mirror; Gibberish; character and location improvisations--has been covered more thoroughly, if less conventionally, in Viola Spolin's Theater Games for the Classroom, A Teacher's Handbook (Northwestern University Pr., 1986). Similarly, this volume would be more effective for teachers than for students as the exercises call for an impartial, guiding hand. The last three chapters are devoted to the formation and management of the comedy/improv troupe, a topic on which the author gives sound advice, gleaned from personal experience. Still, only the rare high school student will be able to pick up this book and know where to go with it.
Dianne Greene Mahony, The Harvey School, Katonah, NY
Copyright 1991 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
..".useful for anyone who wants to take comedy seriously without losing sight of the fun." --Midwest Book Review
Top customer reviews
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The various different types and games of improv are really great. This is a wonderful resource to hang onto for life, let alone a career.
This fills the bill. Well done!
The book begins with a lengthy explication of what improv comedy is and why it's important, but fails to stress important points like why it's bad to force a joke, or how to constitute a themed show. The author also warns young performers away from doing full shows of improv on the grounds that it would be too overwhelming for audiences. I've never heard such a thing.
Most of the space in this book dedicated to exercises focuses on work for beginners, such as the mirror exercise. Granted, improv doyenne Viola Spolin, in the third edition of her classic "Improvisation for the Theatre," lists eleven different kinds of mirror exercise. However, each of Spolin's exercises is concise and straightforward, while Horn rambles on about why the exercise is important and how it's done correctly. Besides, compare Spolin's 416-page textbook to Horn's 144-page primer, and see which is allocating space most effectively.
Horn also gives time and space to how to form a group, find work, secure good contracts, and protect copyright. These are all important issues for young performers, especially young performers who want to get paid for their work; but this takes away copy space from the specific how-to of performance. This is really meat for a separate book. Besides, young performers don't need to be told how to form groups, they'll partner up as skills develop and similar tastes and abilities become evident. The copyright information, moreover, is a decade out of date, and vague even when it was written.
This book is not worthless. That must be stressed. Young performers who want to play at parties or for family and friends will be served well by this information, spare though it is. Too much more detail might overwhelm young performers with light goals and no outside mentor.
However, as performers begin to seek outside their limited experience to deepen their performances, or as they seek professional work or recognition, this book will fail to suit their needs, and they will have to go to other resources if they don't want to have to go it alone. Good books like "Truth in Comedy" or "Improvisation for the Theatre" are more highly recommended for those who want to stick with this art over the long haul.
If you really are interested in the art of improvisation, buy "Truth in Comedy", "Impro for Storytellers", or "Improvise: Scene from the Inside Out".