I've been teaching acting to kids for a few years now and I also saw the result of other acting teachers. Obviously, some kids are naturals and it all comes easy to them but some are very shy and struggle with memorizing their lines. As a result, those 'shy' ones become stiff, paranoid, non-confident, embarrassed and so on when they stand on that stage in front of a crowd and realize they forgot their lines... This all can be avoided by teaching them how to improvise along with providing them with basic acting training. This article, written by Carolyne Barry, will go in more details and give you 4 major reasons why improv training is important for actors.
4 Major Benefits of Improv Training
Do you really understand the value of taking professional improvisation workshops? If you did, you wouldn’t hesitate to take one as soon as possible. There are multiple benefits for the actor, and they’re so worth the time and money.
I am a major advocate of improvisation training because I believe it is the best work for helping actors to build confidence, courage, creativity, and teaches them to trust their instincts. Also, it’s helpful in teaching (anyone) to stay out of their head, listen, and respond honestly.
Here are four benefits of improv training.
1. You learn more than from basic acting classes. I strongly believe that actors should always start with acting classes and at the same time or within a few months, do at least six months of improv. When taken alongside acting classes, for most, that training speeds up development. I believe this is because most acting techniques are focused on emotional connection, character work, truthful expression, and script interpretation, while improv is about freeing up the mind so as to be more creative with choices and instincts. The combination of the two provides more rounded and beneficial training.
Lots of college/university students and those who have be part of improv performance groups with no basic improv classes think it as the same as doing professional improv. For some it is, but I believe for most it isn’t. Performing before learning the basics, I feel, won’t give you the same benefits for your acting training. Read my article about the difference between performing and acting. It should give you a better idea of what I am saying here.
2. It helps with auditioning. If you have done any serious acting training, you are comfortable with having time to come up with choices, do your crafting work, have plenty of rehearsal time with partners, and work your scenes several times with your teacher in class. When you start auditioning, that kind of time is never available to prepare, so most auditioning actors don’t feel as confident or strong as when they have more time (at least when you first start). I do also recommend that auditioning/cold-reading classes be added to your program. It will definitely help when you’re ready to start auditioning. Yet, I believe that improv work (although different) is more empowering for most auditions.
3. Improv helps you get more auditions. So many commercial and many theatrical auditions are requiring or utilizing improv. It is a different creative skill and most casting directors don’t trust actors to do it at their auditions unless they have studied. Where the most amount of production is done, often CDs won’t bring actors in unless they have done a good amount of this kind of training in a reputable major market.
4. It can get you representation. Because most agents know CDs won’t see actors (especially for commercials and depending on the job) unless they have professional improv classes, they tend to favor representing those who have. And for those who don’t have agents and submit themselves for jobs, know there is a much better chance of getting an audition if you have done reputable improv training.