Longform Improv Basics

12 Apr 2011

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Longform improvisation is about making up scenes as you go along.

Other forms of improv use games or structures. Longform improvisation requires the performers to do it all on their own, so I consider it a more advanced level of improv.

Generally a group of improvisers will take a single suggestion from their audience and create anywhere between 20 and 90 minutes of made-up scenes.

Longform is a fantastic tool for increasing your listening skills because you have to be present and attentive to make it work - which requires active listening. Longform helps you create trust in yourself and everyone around you.

Opening a Longform show

To open/launch a scene there are several tools you can use, which include:

  1. Word Association
  2. Monologues
  3. Rants and Raves
  4. Press Conference game
  5. Invocation

During the show

Some simple tips include:

  1. Naming - make sure you name each other - makes the characters/scenes more believable
  2. Paint the scene - you can add imaginary costumes, props, scenery, environment, sounds effects, anything to help build the picture
  3. Attitude - choose an attitude and stick to it - you may choose to play an agreeable character or a disagreeable one - but be careful not to block your scene partner
  4. Game of the scene
  5. Tag outs

Ending a scene

There are lots of ways to end a scene - known as edits:

  1. Object - a player comes on stage and takes an object from one of the characters in the current scene and turns it into something else, which in turn starts a new scene
  2. Verbal - a player comes on stage and starts speaking to start a new scene - be clear you are not just trying to join the current scene
  3. Swarm - all the offstage players go on stage with a movement and/or noise inspired by something that happened in the current scene - the people in the current scene join in
  4. Sweep - when you feel the scene needs to end, just run across in front of them!
  5. Fade in - similar to the verbal edit, when you use a fade in, you might be just miming though and quietly start speaking, gradually getting louder

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Previous post: One Word At A Time Story

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