film acting
System of the Method: since I started a new directory on BioMechanics only, this Acting directory will focus on the Stanislavsky System, known as Method Acting

In addition to physical improvisation, Stanislavsky required mental and emotional exploration of the role. In heavy Method-oriented production of "3 Sisters" (Fall 1999) I asked the actors to do "character's journal" -- you can see it @ 3sis archives.

Yoga = Method + Bimechanics!



"As soon as the god was supposed to have entered the priest, the latter became violently agitated, and worked himself up to the highest pitch of apparent frenzy, the muscles of the limbs seemed convulsed, the body swelled, the countenance became terrific, the features distorted, and the eyes wild and strained. In this state he often rolled on the earth, foaming at the mouth, as if labouring under the influence of the divinity by whom he was possessed, and, in shrill cries, and violent and often indistinct sounds, revealed the will of the god." Frazer What? Improv? Again? Wait! We did it to free you (Acting I), we did it to develop the story (situation -- Acting II), now we learn how to do it for development of your character!


Improvisation for the Theater: A Handbook of Teaching and Directing Techniques. Contributors: Viola Spolin - author. Publisher: Northwestern University Press. Place of Publication: Evanston, IL. Publication Year: 1963 Tensions and blocks must be overcome usually through exercises, improvisations (enacting characters in a situation without planned script or blocking), theatre games (animals, stereotypes, machines, etc.).
Improvisational Theatre (also known as improv or impro) is a form of theatre in which the actors perform spontaneously, without a script. Modern improvisation began in the classroom with the theatre games of Viola Spolin in the 1950s, then evolved quickly to become an independent artform worthy of presentation before a paying audience.

In all forms of improvisation, the actors invent/discover the dialogue and action as they perform. The unpredictable nature of such a performance lends itself naturally to comedy, which might go somewhat towards explaining why the overwhelming majority of improvisational theatre is comedic, not dramatic. Dramatic improv is used by many companies and artists as a means of generating text and content for later performance. This is sometimes referred to as "organic" theatre, and is especially favored by creators of political theatre, experimental theatre, and practitioners of drama therapy. Improvisation is often found used in actor training as well. Modern improvisational comedy, as it is practiced in the West, falls generally into two categories: shortform and longform.

Shortform improvisation (often referred to simply as shortform) is an approach to improvisational theater and improvisational comedy consisting of a series of games or structures that each encompass a single scene, with no narrative relationship to prior or subsequent scenes.

In shortform, audiences are asked for suggestions, or inputs, that are incorporated into the structure that is about to be performed. These inputs are solicited before each structure during the course of an improv performance. Television audiences would be most familiar with shortform through the UK and US versions of the television show Whose Line Is It Anyway? Many of the structures familiar to Whose Line Is It Anyway? audiences have variations that can be seen performed by improvisational troupes around the world. Shortform improvisation is performed around the world and is closely identified with the competitive improv formats ComedySportz and Theatresports.

The shortform approach is contrasted with longform improvisation, or longform. The superiority or inferiority of one approach versus another is a continuing subject of discussion in the improv community.

Longform improvisation, often referred to simply as longform, is an approach to improvisational theater and improvisational comedy consisting of one or more scenes which are connected by a narrative thread or theme.

In longform, audiences are often asked for one or more suggestions or inputs which drive the narrative of the performance. This may take the form of a specific existing type of theater, for example a full-length improvised play or Broadway-style musical. Or, the scenes may largely unrelated with the exception of a single point of inspiration. Unlike shortform, no further inputs are solicited. The performance is created by the performers without breaking the narrative thread. Longform improvisation is the predominant form of improvisational performance in Chicago, considered the birthplace of contemporary improvisational theater. However, longform improvisation is performed around the world. Perhaps the best known longform structure is The Harold, developed by ImprovOlympic cofounder Del Close.

Improv process

Improvisational theatre allows an active relationship with the audience often absent from scripted theatre. Frequently improv groups will solicit suggestions from the audience as a source of inspiration, a way of getting the audience excited and involved, and as a means of proving that the performance is not scripted, a charge often aimed at the masters of the art, whose performances seem so effortless and detailed that those new to improv are convinced it must have been planned. Much of this success can be attributed to the level of cooperation and agreement these improvisers bring to the stage.

In order for an improvised scene to be successful, the actors involved must work together responsively to define the parameters and action of the scene. With each spoken word or action in the scene, an actor makes an offer, meaning that he or she defines some element of the reality of the scene. This might include giving another character a name, identifying a relationship, location, or using mime to define the physical environment. These activities are also known as endowment. It is the responsibility of the other actors to accept the offers that their fellow performers make; to not do so is known as blocking, which usually prevents the scene from developing. Some performers may deliberately block (or otherwise break out of character) for comedic effect -- this is known as gagging -- but this generally prevents the scene from advancing and is frowned upon by many improvisers. Accepting an offer is usually accompanied by adding a new offer, often building on the earlier one; this is a process improvisers refer to as "Yes, And..." and is considered the cornerstone of improvisational techinque. For example, an improv scene might begin with these lines.

Adam: I'm proud of all the work you've done here on the farm, Junior.
Bill: Yes, and I'm proud of you for giving up the moonshine, Pa.

The unscripted nature of improv also implies no predetermined knowledge about the props that might be useful in a scene. Improv companies may have at their disposal some number of readily accessible props that can be called upon at a moment's notice, but many improvisers eschew props in favor of the infinite possibilites available through mime. As with all improv offers, actors are encouraged to respect the validity and continuity of the imaginary environment defined by themselves and their fellow performers; this means, for example, taking care not to walk through the table or "miraculously" survive multiple bullet wounds from another improviser's gun.

Because improv actors may be required to play a variety of roles without preparation, they need to be able to construct characters quickly with physicality, gestures, accents, voice changes, or other techniques as demanded by the situation. The actor may be called upon to play a character of a different age or sex. Character motivations are an important part of successful improv scenes, and improv actors must therefore attempt to act according to the objectives that they believe their character seeks.

Many improvisational actors also work as scripted actors, and "improv" techniques are often taught in standard acting classes. The basic skills of listening, clarity, confidence, and performing without thinking are considered important skills for actors to develop.


When teaching is oriented toward a practical and even interesting objective it is easier to convince and influence students. . . . Our point of departure in training actors is to have them learn by acting [improvisations]. . . . One cannot go on teaching for years in a classroom and only at the end ask a student to act. In that space of time he will have lost all creative faculty. . . . Creativeness must never cease, the only question being the choice of material on which to base it. . . . In our kind of acting we make frequent use of improvisations. . . . This kind of creativeness gives a freshness and an immediacy to a performance.

In the beginning it is best to take subjects which are within your reach, and not too overburdened with complicated psychology . . . but even the most primary kind of exercises must be carried to the point of mastery, of virtuosity in execution. It is not the job of teachers to give instruction in how to create, we should only push students in the right direction, while training their taste, requiring from them the observance of the laws of nature, and the execution of their simplest exercises carried to the point of art, which is to say absolute truthfulness and technical perfection.

Improvisations which they work out themselves are an excellent way to develop the imagination. . . . Student actors who have been trained on improvisations later on find it easy to use their imaginative fancy on a play where this is needed.

In addition to the development of imagination improvisations . . . have another asset: while working on one an actor naturally, without even perceiving it, learns the creative laws of organic nature and the methods of psycho-technique. -- Collected Works, Vol. III Stanislavsky


"Opposites": In every part an actor plays there are Sameness and Difference. The actor and character must become one. In the book Actors on Acting, the editors write: "This identification with the role becomes a complex problem for the actor." And Stanislavski talked about "living a part." He says: "He (the actor) must fit his own human qualities to the life of this other person, and pour into it all of his own soul." Aesthetic Realism
Improvization as a special discipline is over-rated. It's so organically built within the ACTING that we should see it no more that skill development. There are three main components I ask to choose in Acting One, when we go for Improv Class: situation, character, basic dramatic structure. Simple? Not really.
First, the situation must have urgency and simplicity in order to be established quickly and for all participants at once. Well, we stick with the comedy genre. (We discover right away that we don't know how this "comedy" works -- laws of contrast, comic conflict and ect.)
Second, potentiality. That's why we have to foresee some dramatic development -- expectation of the climax, turning point, resolution. Something ahead, something to aim at.
The Character. Type, Archtype, Stock -- go for physicality. The more grotesque, the better!

Ready? Action!

For Theatre Theory see THR directory. Also check the Biomechanics pages!


[ image ] “Dances are for the mind. They give nothing to the soul—the soul does not need anything. A dance has a certain meaning; every movement has a certain content.” G. I. Gurdjieff

Improvisation for the Character Development:


MISS PRISM. Lady Bracknell, I admit with shame that I do not know. I only wish I did. The plain facts of the case are these. On the morning of the day you mention, a day that is for ever branded on my memory, I prepared as usual to take the baby out in its perambulator. I had also with me a somewhat old, but capacious hand-bag in which I had intended to place the manuscript of a work of fiction that I had written during my few unoccupied hours. In a moment of mental abstraction, for which I never can forgive myself, I deposited the manuscript in the basinette, and placed the baby in the hand-bag.


[ Read again the Improvisation for the development of situation in Biomechanics] Actor : "The glory of God is a human being fully alive." --St. Thomas Aquinas


Text and Improv: In "Method Improv" we are developing objectives, obstacles, motivation, justifications and etc.

Questions and Homework

Read the play (The Importance of Being Earnest). Ms. Prism mono (finale): what is your take on the objective in this monologue? Defence? Sorrow? Confessional? What is the obstacle? The inner conflict, i.e. what prevents her admition of (guilt, shame? -- oblective, again). How does it relate to your understand of the super-objective of Ms. Prism's character? Can she now put her "dark secret" behind herself and marries Dr. Chasable?
Indicate the key words in this mono. In short, do the Actor's Text. Walk-BM “One moves the movement and forgets the movement, this is not the movement in itself. If, when stimulated by external things, one moves, it is the impulse of the being. If when not stimulated by external things, one moves, it is the movement of heaven.” Tao Behind the visible movement there is another movement, one which cannot be seen, which is very strong, on which the outer movement depends. If this inner movement were not so strong, the outer one would not have any action. *
Improvisational comedy (also called improv or impro) is comedy that is performed with a little to no predetermination of subject matter and structure. The performers discover their lines and actions spontaneously, typically following a general theme and format, often in response to audience suggestions. Improvisational comedy is a form of improvisational theater.

Eagle Improvised performance is as old as performance itself. From the 16th to the 18th century, Commedia dell'arte performers improvised in the streets of Italy. Many silent filmmakers like Charles Chaplin and Buster Keaton used this approach in the making of their films, developing their gags while filming and altering the plot to fit. Modern theatrical improvisation began in Chicago in the 1950s with the first theatre games of Viola Spolin, from there evolving quickly to an independent artform worthy of presentation before a paying audience. The Compass Players and Second City were the first organized troupes, both originated in the windy city and from their success modern improvisational comedy was spawned. Improv comedy techniques have also been used in film, television and stand-up comedy, notably the mockumentary films of director Christopher Guest and the routines of Robin Williams and Eddie Izzard, who often improvise onstage. Camel

There have been hundreds of improvisational games and forms developed for use in the theatre, with more being developed all the time. Many games invented for recreation have been adapted for performance or training. Specific games are often designed to develop or showcase particular skills, such as physical expressiveness, creation of characters, responsiveness, openness to suggestion, trust, or comic wit. Longforms are often developed to explore specific subject matter, such as political commentary, or styles, as in the emulation of cinematographic techniques in the Movie longform. child

Commedia dell'arte, (Italian, meaning "comedy of professional artists") was a form of improvisational theater which began in the 16th century and was popular until the 18th century, although it is still performed today. Traveling teams of players would set up an outdoor stage and provide amusement in the form of juggling, acrobatics, and, more typically, humorous plays based on a repertoire of established characters with a rough storyline, called Canovaccio.

Troupes occasionally would perform directly from the back of their traveling wagon, but this is more typical of Carro di Tespi, a sort of travelling theatre that dates back to antiquity.

The performances were improvised around a repertory of stock conventional situations, adultery, jealousy, old age, love, some of which can be traced in Roman comedies of Plautus and Terence. The dialogue and action could easily be made topical and adjusted to satirize local scandals, current events, or regional tastes, mixed with ancient jokes and punchlines. Characters were identified by costume, masks, and even props, such as the slapstick. [ wikipedia ] dance

Whose Line Is It Anyway? -- The show consists of a panel of four improvisational performers and comedians. They make up characters, scenes, and songs on the spot, sometimes based on audience suggestions or with pre-written prompts from the host. The show is formatted roughly as a mock competition, with the host arbitrarily assigning points and choosing a "winner" at the end of each episode who would (in the British version) undertake a improvisational act based on the closing credits. In a typical taping, each 'game' is played between one and three times, always with different prompts and suggestions. Then the show is edited and only those scenes deemed the best are actually broadcast. diamond

Possible sketches include:

* 90-second Alphabet: Three participants must enact a scene in which each sentence must begin with the letter following the first letter of the last sentence. The performers start with a letter chosen by the audience (oftentimes it is a less common letter like Q) and must go through the entire alphabet in 90 seconds. Hilarity generally ensues when they get to X.

* African Chant: Wayne, backed up by the other three performers, must perform an African Chant with an audience member.

* Animals: Two to four participants must enact a soap opera-ish scene, but they are all animals.

* Authors: All four performers tell parts of the same story, but each contestant uses the style of their favorite author.

* Dubbing: Colin and Ryan act out a scene with an audience member, whose voice is provided by Wayne or Brad. Sometimes a special celebrity guest is used instead of an audience member.

* Film Dub: Performers must watch a clip from a movie or television show which has been muted and make up the dialogue as they go along.

* Film, T.V., & Theatre Styles: Two participants must act out a given scene, but the scene occasionally stops and a film or theatre style is given, and the participants must continue in that style.

* Film Noir: Two participants must enact a scene in film noir, ie. they must break the fourth wall, approach the camera, and tell everyone what's going on.

* Foreign Film Dub: 2 performers must act out a scene in a foreign languange chosen by the audience while the other two performers must translate. (Due to the fact that the performers usually do not know the language chosen, it is usually just gibberish)

* Greatest Hits: Colin and Ryan must sell a compilation album, and Wayne (and sometimes the guest performer) must sing songs from the album when prompted.

* Hats: Two pairs of two participants receive a box of random headgear and must use them to come up with examples of "the world's worst dating service videos."

* Helping Hands: Two participants must enact a scene in which one cannot use his hands; a third participant must provide the hands. Hoedown: The four participants must individually sing a hoedown about a given subject.

* Hollywood Director: Three participants improvise a scene provided by the host. Colin interrupts periodically to provide often ridiculous directions to the others, such as, "Do it like a 1950's musical."

* If You Know What I Mean: Colin, Ryan, and Brad improvise a scene in which they make up as many ambiguous euphemisms as they can.

* Impossible Mission or Improbable Mission: Two participants are super-secret agents a la Mission: Impossible. A third is the voice on the tape, who gives them their assignment: a mundane task (e.g. Get dressed or mow the lawn). Greg Proops is known for taking these boring tasks and making them exciting; he turned "Doing the laundry" into "Cleaning the visiting emir of Brufunkistan's burnoose without his knowledge."

* Infomercial: Colin and Ryan must create an infomercial for some type of self-help product using only items given to them in a box.

* Irish Drinking Song: The four participants must sing an Irish drinking song one line at a time about a given subject. (Colin usually has the last line in this game, and has a penchant for coming up with something so outrageously hilarious that the other three crack up and can hardly finish the song.)

* Let's Make a Date: One performer is the host of a dating-type show. The other three are bachelors who have quirky personalities. The host tries to guess what they are at the end.

* Living Scenery: Two performers improvise a scene provided by the host. The other two performers stand in for props during the scene.

* Moving People: Colin and Ryan improvise a scene, but cannot move on their own. Instead, two audience members move them into different positions as they act out the scene.

* News Flash: Colin (or Greg, on the U.K. series) stands in front of a green screen as a field reporter. Random footage is shown to the audience, the news anchors, and the viewers at home. The two studio reporters (Ryan and the guest performer) give Colin clues to the footage. (Ryan and Drew have also played the field reporter in a few episodes of the U.S. version.)

* Party Quirks: Three participants are given a random quirk, and the fourth is a party host, who must identify the others' quirks.

* Props: Two pair of two participants must come up with quick scenes that involve a random prop.

* Questions Only: The game will start with 2 participants. They must only speak in the form of a question in a given subject. Failure to do talk in a form of a question will result in being buzz out and the next participant coming in. A variant is "Questionable Impressions," where, in addition to the above rules, the performers must impersonate a historical, fictional, or pop culture figure of their choice.

* Quick Change: Two or three performers improvise a scene provided by the host. Another performer stands to the side and says "Change" at various times during the scene. Whenever he says "change", the performer who had the last line must change that line to something else.

* Scenes From a Hat: The four players improvise one-liners with random scenes that Drew reads from a hat (ex. "Rejected state songs" and "What Drew Carey is thinking right now"). The suggested scenes are provided by members of the audience.

* Scene to Rap: All four participants must enact a scene, but can only speak as a rap.

* Show Stopping Number: Ryan and Colin enact a scene, joined later by Wayne. At random times Drew uses a buzzer, and the last contestant to speak before the buzzer must sing a show-stopping tune based on the line they just said.

* Song Styles: Wayne sings a song in a style provided by the host about an audience member or about a subject provided by the audience. In a similar game, "Duet," Wayne will be joined by a guest performer.

* Song Titles: The game will start with 2 participants. They can only speak using song titles. Failure to do so will result in being buzzed out and the next participant coming in.

* Sound Effects: There are two variants to this game. In one, Colin improvises a scene provided by the host, reacting to sound cues provided by Ryan. In the other, Colin and Ryan improvise a scene with sound effects provided by two audience members.

* Superheroes: One participant is a silly superhero determined by the audience, and is confronted with a bizarre world crisis. The other participants enter one at a time, and they each identify the next entrant.

* Superheroes from this game included Disco Kid, Captain Dog-in-Heat, Yodeling Pogo-Stick Man, and Captain Hair.

* Stand, Sit, Bend: Three participants must enact a scene, but one must be standing, one must be sitting, and one must be bent over. Whenever one participant changes positions, the others have to accommodate. A variant is "Stand, Sit, Lie," where a participant must be lying down.

* Three-Headed Broadway Star: Three players must make up a Broadway hit song one word at a time.

* Two Line Vocabulary: Three participants enact the scene. One (typically Colin) can say anything they like, but the others (usually Ryan and the guest performer) are allowed to say only two specific lines, and nothing else.

* What Are You Trying to Say?: Two performers act out a given scenario, each taking offense at the other's statements whenever possible.

* Whose Line: Ryan and Colin do a scene and must include two random lines that were given to them. The lines are provided by audience members.

* Weird Newscasters: Colin, Brad, or Greg (usually Greg) is the head anchor of a news show, with the guest performer as his co-host, Wayne as the sports anchor, and Ryan as the weather anchor. Drew gives the performers (except the head anchor) a quirky personality.

* World's Worst: The participants come to "the World's Worst Step" and must step forward when they have an example of the world's worst (fill in the blank) (e.g. "the world's worst roommate").

[ clips ]

fish Ad lib (or ad-lib) are terms relating to its Latin meaning, ad libitum for "at liberty". Ad lib is the adjective or adverb, ad-lib is the verb or noun form.

Most commonly, in drama, the quick-witted invention of dialogue to cover a performer's memory lapse would be an example of an ad-lib. Or, a director might encourage performers to ad-lib in a particular show. (The term ad-lib usually refers to the interpolation of unscripted material in an otherwise scripted performance. When the entire performance is grounded in spontaneous creation, the process is usually called improvisation).

Live performers such as television talk-show hosts sometimes enhance their reputation for wit by the delivery of material that sounds ad-libbed but is actually scripted, and may employ ad-lib writers to prepare such material.

In music, the term ad lib is used in a similar way to mean an improvised passage. It is also an instruction found in sheet music; see ad libitum.

halfmoon Improv wiki:

Structures : Warm Ups * Exercises * Performance Games *

Skills : Tips And Techniques * Improv Skills * Preparation *

Yes And : Listening * Commit *

Thoughts: Ask For * Advance the Scene * "Always Funny" Stuff that Doesn't Work in Improv * Outside the Box * Improv vs. Instinct * Paradox of Improv * Platform * Conflict * Improv Jargon * Disrupting a Routine * Canceling * Gagging * Cuing * Active Choice * Status * When a Scene Is Sucking * Your Personal Search Engine * All You Do Is Accept Offers * From Standup to Improv * General Improv Advice *


A warm-up is an easy activity that you do at the beginning of a practice or before a performance, to raise your energy level and put you into a silly mood.


Word Association Ball: All stand in a circle. One player holds a ball (something soft, safe, and easy to catch). That player says a word and throws the ball to someone else chosen at random. That person says the first word that comes to mind that is triggered by the word just spoken, and throws the ball to someone else. And so on.

headstand See for lots more improv warm-ups.

An exercise is a special, highly constrained activity that you do in order to develop a certain skill or lead your mind to discovery.

A performance game is a scene format that you can play in front of an audience and that hopefully they will find entertaining.

locus The game Inner Voices

Ask For : Pretty much anything involving two people.

"Have you ever said one thing while thinking another? Have you ever suspected that other people are doing that when they're talking to you? In this game, we'll have translators stand behind the performers to tell you what they're really thinking."

2 Straight Players who play a scene
2 Inner Voices who stand behind them

Format : Each Inner Voice translates after each Straight Player has said a line. For example, if the Straight Player says, "I'm so pleased to meet you, Mr. Goldberg," the Inner Voice might then say, "I really need to take my clothes out of the dryer."


A mime is the representation of action, character or mood using only gestures and movements rather than words, or the actor in such a performance, specifically a mimic or pantomimist. David Bowie was a mime before finding success as a singer.

To mime is also the term given to a singer who performs to a pre-recorded song and only pretends to sing live. It is usually limited to performances by Pop music artists.

In ancient Greece and ancient Rome, a mime is a farcical drama characterized by mimicry and ludicrous representations of characters, or the script for such a performance.

plow theatre games : Games are incredibly useful in a theatre classroom; and not just acting or warm-up games – all kinds of games can be played to increase performance or creative skills. Most theatre games, and the recreational games that are best in class have no winners or losers. The participants work individually or with others to accomplish the goal of the game, and if the goal is not accomplished at the first try, the participants have still learned something from the experience. [ very fundamentals ]

Games: my old page in Students Directory

salutation scorpiom shootingbow snake

sunsalutation tree triangle wind tree2

"The secret of staying fresh in a show is to remember that the audience you're playing for that night has never seen it before." Danny Kaye