What To Do If Your Improv Team Has Little Practice Time

This is a continuation of the thread began here.

What To Do If You Have Little Practice Time

1. Regardless of your coaching level, if you teach, coach or direct improv, you will be short on time.
2. Physical ability improves play, so get your players in shape. Use motion and moving exercises where players improvise while moving.
3. Spend most of your time on individual skills (character, observation, object work, adding to what is established, edits, matching), where second for second you get the most improvement.
4. Squeeze in team skills before shows, e.g. the intro/get, striking chairs, group games, the curtain call.
5. Give homework. Do exercises in practice that players can repeat at home.
6. Make sure every player practices multiple two person scenes.
7. Don’t talk your players to death. Get them going and doing. Never leave any one person sitting for more than half an hour.
8. Plan practice and then time each exercise with your phone or (if available) a stopwatch.
9. If possible, have an assistant coach or instructor help out.
10. Use the time before a show to actually practice. If available, use intermission as well.
11. You don’t always need a stage or a meeting room to practice.

Counterproductive Beliefs

1. Being concerned with the show or audience will help us entertain them. No. Worrying about the audience isn’t going to make the show good, but using your abilities to create great scenes will. It only takes 5 minutes to figure out and adjust to a given audience’s expectations if players use their attention to detail to note how their audience is reacting.

2. To win an audience over I have to be clever and play to their tastes. Doing this without giving them a good show of your own is pandering! Referencing what the audience knows without skillfully building characters, relationships and scenes for them to care about is worthless, even detrimental. Committed attention to detail in establishing character + environment, and building strong relationships, makes for effective scenes and an effective show.

3. Running the set we’re going to do in the show is the best way to spend our time, because players will learn everything they need for the show itself. No, players will then just make the same mistakes in practice as they will make in shows. Without building their individual scenework skills, players can not be effective team players once under the lights before an audience.

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