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THEATRICAL IMPROVISATION – GAMES AND MORE

I'm so excited to introduce you all to a new guest contributor for The Prepared Performer! Introducing Jes DeGroot!

Jes DeGroot and Molly Mahoney

This young gal has been a student of mine for a few years now and I couldn't be prouder of her. She is such a seriously dedicated hard worker who takes her craft seriously, and she has grown leaps and bounds because of her dedication. When I asked her if she would be interested in writing a weekly guest post for this blog, she jumped at the chance.

I LOVE what she has written so far. I often focus on tips that are geared toward performers who want to build a career as a performer. I know that Jes would love to work as a professional performer one day, but I also love that she is sharing her journey as a young teen who is figuring the crazy world of a performer out.

In this post you'll learn about a great class Jes had with Improv Performer Extraordinaire, Drew Boudreau, and there's even a 5 Step Theatrical Improvisation Tutorial that you can use with your friends at home, or that is great for teachers to use in the classroom!

So – here you go!

I give you the Musical Musings of Jes DeGroot!

Helllooo!!! My name is Jessie and I am an aspiring actress and musical theatre junkie. My love for musical theatre began when I was just a tyke. My parents tell me I loved musicals before I even knew what one was. When I was four, my mom found a cd at our local library called, A Child's Celebration of Showtunes  and I couldn’t get enough of those songs! I made my brothers crazy listening to them all the time. It had Broadway favorites from Peter Pan, Oliver!, Fiddler on the Roof, and of course the Sound of Music. Who doesn’t LOVE the Sound of Music, right? Then, when I was six years old, my dad took all of us to see My Fair Lady, and my life changed FOREVER!!!! Since then I have been in LOVE with everything about musicals—from the auditions, the rehearsals, those backstage moments (you know which ones), curtain calls, and the last bow at the end of a show. I love to perform. There is nothing like the thrill of being on the stage. I still have A LOT to learn, but my hope is we might go on this journey together as I steer my way around in this crazy, musical theatre world.

Soooo I thought I would start off with something different that happened last week. In my Musical Theatre class at ADBA we had a guest instructor from the Imagination Machine come to teach us a bit about improvisation or improv for short. (Improvisation is when you create a short scene in the spur of the moment. It’s spontaneous and unrehearsed!!) We mostly played games, but I think they were really more exercises to teach us how to improvise a scene, but in a fun way. One of the exercises had us pair up and then we decided on a difficult situation that we had to escape from, all in an instant. Yes, there were zombies and superheroes, but that’s all I’m saying! After the class, I thought I’d do a little more exploration on improvisation, and this is what I discovered… improvisation is mainly a way for actors to become more comfortable being on stage!! It also helps with the skill of responding to other actors who are on the stage with you. It can be done in a group, as a pair, or done solo. It doesn’t matter how many people you improvise with, but you must have a character, a scene and an objective. Then you need to ask yourself four important questions:

  1. Who am I?

  2. Where am I?

  3. What am I doing here?

  4. What do I want?  

You will need to quickly figure out answers to these questions, because when you improvise, there is not a lot of time to work on character development. And don’t forget to use gestures and movement. It can be easy to forget these when you are thinking on the spot. The best way to remember is to not be in a hurry. If you are improvising with other kids, take time to listen to what they are saying. Listen and react, otherwise you will most likely be talking AT each other, and that can get pretty boring. When you react, always keep your character’s motivation in the scene as the most important thing that guides you. That way, it will keep the scene moving along.

I am definitely not an expert with any of this, but I thought if I put all the steps and information together, we could work on it together. It’s a lot of fun and something you can do next time you hang out with one of your friends. You can also practice it at home performing a solo improvisation for a family member. This may NOT be as much fun as doing it with your friends, but it’s another way to work on your acting skills when your friends are busy. So next time you are sitting around with nothing to do, hop up off your bed and improvise! I have thought of a few scenarios to get you started.

  1. A pirate whose ship has sunk and you are stranded on an island

  2. Your pet dragon is lost somewhere in your house and you need to find it before your parents learn that it’s missing.

  3. You have locked your keys in your car just before driving off to an amazing audition.

If you’d like, I have put the all-important steps together in one quick reference sheet for you. 5 Step Theatrical Improvisation Tutorial (a step by step tutorial for playing fun improv games at home with your friends). It can be scary at first, but with practice, you’ll get the hang of it in no time! And remember, most importantly, have LOTS and LOTS of fun!!

-A kid who likes to shimmer, shine, sparkle and glimmer!Jes DeGroot

Jes DeGroot

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Nancy Porter says:

    What a great post, Jes! I look forward to following your journey!

  2. Shawn Wild says:

    Super post, Jessie! I really enjoyed reading it! Looking forward to the next one….keep up the good work!

  3. […] The awesome Jes DeGroot is back with a new weekly post! If you missed her first post about Theatrical Improvisation, (where I also give you a little background on her awesomeness) Click Here.  […]

  4. […] post about Theatrical Improvisation, (where I also give you a little background on her awesomeness) Click Here, and for her review of The Light in the Piazza – Click […]

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