Impro : Improvisation and the Theatre by Keith Johnstone with an introduction by Irving Wardle
New York : Theatre Arts Books, 1979. Hardcover. 208 pages ; 22 cm. In original dust jacket with firm binding, clean and unmarked pages.
Impro : Improvisation and the Theatre Keith Johnstone
with an introduction by Irving Wardle
Keith Johnstone's involvement with the theatre began when George Devine and Tony Richardson, artistic directors of the Royal Court Theatre, commissioned a play from him. A few years later he was himself Associate Artistic Director, working as play-reader and director, in particular helping to run the Writers' Group. The techniques and exercises evolved there, to foster spontaneity and narrative skills through improvisation, were developed further in the actors' studio.
'The work became unreasonably funny', says Johnstone. T was spending all day laughing with actors. . . .' To establish whether it really was funny meant testing the work before a real audience, and the result was that before long Johnstone was touring schools and colleges demonstrating his methods. Demonstration became performance and the company, now called The Theatre Machine, spent several years touring Europe and Canada, including a season at the Montreal Expo, where they regularly held non-paying audiences for three hours at a time.
Under the headings 'Status', 'Spontaneity', 'Narrative Skills' and 'Masks and Trance', Keith Johnstone describes specific techniques and exercises and the working context in which they evolved. The result is both a source book of ideas and a fascinating exploration of the nature of creativities and human capacities for self-discovery which is entertaining, illuminating and occasionally disturbing.
Keith Johnstone is currently teaching at the University of Calgary, where he is joint artistic director of the Loose Moose Theatre Company.
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