- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (January 7, 1987)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0878301178
- ISBN-13: 978-0878301171
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #109,964 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre 1st Edition
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""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."
-"CHOICE: Books for College Libraries
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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: "... when these children grow up, and perhaps crack up, then they'll find themselves in therapy groups where they'll be encouraged to say all the things that the teacher would have forbidden during school." SO TRUE. This is what all the group therapies in Psych hospitals do - try to bring back the creativeness of the child. Why do we limit it in the first place??
Basically he stresses that EVERYONE has "weird" thoughts and an "artistic" nature that many of us have learned to say NO to, because they are forbidden or at least not encouraged. He says, "In one moment I knew that the valuing of men by their intelligence is crazy, that the peasants watching the night sky might feel more than I feel, that the man who dances might be superior to myself - word-bound and unable to dance. From then on I noticed how warped many people of great intelligence are, and I began to value people for their actions, rather than their thoughts."
And that's not EVEN getting into the last chapter, on MASKS - at first I was thinking, "OK, this is weird, why is there a huge chapter on MASKS in a book about IMPROV"? But the things he describes there are perhaps the most amazing, and disturbing, of the whole book. It almost makes me fear what I would "do" if I were to follow his instructions and suggestions ... but it's an excited sort of 'fear' - actually I wish I had readier access to instructors who are comfortable in these methods ... well, I can't really describe it much better than that.
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.
Head of Acting