Improvisation is a skill that can be developed with practice; some people are more inclined toward improvisation while others are very uncomfortable with it. • There are two basic guidelines for improvisation: never negate and do not edit.
Negating • Shutting down what another performer suggests by refusing to accept it in some way. • Can be done by disagreeing with or ignoring the other performer. • It only counts as negating if the action does not add to the possibilities or give the other performer something new to work with. • “Yes, and” is the attitude needed in improvisation because it generates a mindset of building on what the other performers are offering. • (An example of negating would be someone addressing another performer as “grandma” and that person immediately saying “No I’m not” without adding anything to clarify the relationship. This would not be negating if the person said “No I’m not, I’m your cousin” or otherwise defined the relationship because that would add to the scene rather than stopping it.)
Editing • The internal process of deciding what to say. • Improvisation relies on performers going with impulses rather than fully constructing ideas because there is no rehearsal process in which to agree on the set order of things. • By editing, the performer essentially negates himself or herself and shuts down many possible additions to the scene.