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Improv for Actors Paperback – 1 Apr 2004


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Product Description

About the Author

Dan Diggles teaches improvisation at Marymount Manhattan College and has taught master classes in improvisation at Columbia University. A cofounder of the FreeStyle Repertory Theatre, he lives in New York City.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x91af73a8) out of 5 stars 14 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x91939d44) out of 5 stars When the Student is Ready. . . 1 Jun. 2004
By Ted Delorme - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
. . . The Teacher Will Appear. So, when I was teaching improv classes for the second time and preparing to assemble and train a new performing group, this book was one of five improv books I picked up for inspiration.
I was amazed at Dan Diggles' gift for taking all the lessons I'd already learned but didn't believe and turning them into memorable and logical life lessons for performing! This book is a wonderful resource for any actor or improviser. Almost every page made me smile or gasp at the simplicity of things I'd been making too complicated.
Thanks, Dan, for making me a better actor, improviser and person.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x987256cc) out of 5 stars The Best Improv Book I have read so far 18 April 2014
By Ryan Price - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Impro can teach you about the joy of improv.
Truth in Comedy can teach you about the roots of Improv.
The UCB Comedy Manual can teach you to find the game and heighten it.
Improv for Actors by Dan Diggles can teach you how to become a versatile and confident improviser.

Designed as a textbook and a teacher's guide, this book begins with 5 or 6 chapters of "laying down the law", teaching the three most important rules of improv:
1. Make your scene partner look good.
2. Say the first thing that comes to your head. Be obvious, be bold. (some people disagree with this, but this is much harder than it sounds for some people, and if you can't do this one, you can't do either)
3. Say "Yes, and..."
It encourages you to "Be the best of yourself on stage" this is another way of saying "play to the top of your intelligence", but it means more. It reinforces the fact that you already know everything you need to in order to become a great improviser, if you can just get out of your own way.

As I said, this book is laid out like a class. For someone learning improv without a theatre near by, this means that once you are finished reading the book, you could easily use the (16?) lesson plans in this book to teach your own improv class. There are tons of examples, so you should not stray too far from Dan's teachings.

Also, note the title says it is "for actors". There are a few sections of this book that deal with learning a "neutral scene" and then playing that scene with different characters, scenarios and statuses. Why would improvisers want to learn lines? But the real question is "Why are you doing improv?" If you eventually want to become a working actor, you have to read lines, learn them for auditions, do commercials and television, maybe even the occasional play. Even stand-ups can benefit from learning a little characterization.

I applaud this book and everything it teaches. If you are looking to do traditional long form like the Harold, check out "Long Form Improv" by Ben Huack. If you are looking to do fast-laugh, game-heavy improv, check out the UCB Comedy Manual (which is one of the best textbooks on improv I have found, but teaches their style so concretely that it is not my #1 recommendation). If you can do everything Diggles teaches, you could walk into a UCB-style setting and learn to play "the game" in no time, or you could walk into a "slow comedy" long-form troupe and be right at home. Last of all, you could now teach an improv class using this book's lesson plans if you had to.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9228d678) out of 5 stars Fantastic building blocks! 22 Jun. 2004
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This new book by Dan Diggles is a fantabulous thing.
It's generally directed at an Improv teacher (probably teaching at a school). So, unless you are in that (rare-ish) position, you can gloss over some bits about not talking about your friends in class and the grading thing.
But otherwise, this is a Great book about the 3 big rules:
- Say, "Yes, and..."
- Say the first thing that comes to mind.
- Make your partner look good.
Sure, we hear that a lot, but he really makes it stick to your ribs.
It's not chock full of games, just a few that he focuses on as great building blocks. (You can find a million games online and in other books.)
This book is definitely great for improvisers, actors, and anyone else that needs to get up on a stage. The 3 rules are great for performances and perhaps for living as well.
I really think that everyone could get something useful out of this one.
HASH(0x92fb3180) out of 5 stars Great for teachers, less so for students... 19 April 2014
By Frank - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Five stars for anyone looking for a reference on teaching improv. The book is perfect for that.

But my improv teacher recommended this book to me as an improv student, and although it makes a good workbook, it's not ideal as something to just read for insight on the art and craft of improv. There is a fair bit of that, but mostly the book is nuts and bolts, descriptions of training exercises that one can do in classes. They are much more fun to do than to read about :)

For the *student* of improv, I recommend Keith Johnstone's "Impro", which indeed Diggles cites as an inspiration of his.
HASH(0x9228de88) out of 5 stars Improv for Actors 17 May 2012
By schatzi - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book goes into details about the different types of Improv as well as how to apply them. It is an eye opener to what you have been doing and what you should be doing. To go back to your childhood and use your child-like imagination and fearlessness. This book is a very good source to improve your Improv ability.
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