Now that I am a full-fledged drama buff, I offered my support for an Arts@theAviary night of improvisation games.

According to an article on by Robert Vaux, improvisational acting “involves a free-form approach to a given scene or character…Improv is usually comedic, but not always.”  Usually indeed.

The ehow article offers some tips for improv acting.

Tip #1 Lose Your Inhibitions

Inhibitions? Oh, you mean those little voices that say, “Don’t you dare do that.  If you do, you run the risk of looking stupid, and we both know you do NOT want to look stupid.  That would be embarrassing.  It’s much better to just stick with choosing behavior that is sure to maintain your put-together, nice, pretty, make-no-mistakes persona. I mean, really, what would we DO if you did something…wierd?

Tip #2 – Work as a Team

Despite my independent nature, this one is not so hard for me. I would rather not have all the weight of the craziness be on my shoulders alone anyway.

Tip #3 – Practice Creative Thinking

Creative thinking, creative thinking…….um….uh….guess I should practice more.  Vaux has some great ideas.  We’ve all heard of this one, I’m sure:

“Sit at a mall or similar public location and pick a passerby at random, then  spend 60 seconds making up a background for that person (though you should keep  your thoughts private and/or refrain from being rude). “

Or as I might add, “Sit on your couch or a similar in home location and pick a child at random….(and be sure to speak your thoughts openly for the amusement of all around)”

For those of us who like to hang out alone, here’s another idea:

“You can also close your  eyes and open a newspaper, then put your finger down on the page. Speak  constantly about the article (or ad or photo) that your finger touched for a  full minute. Such exercises stimulate your brain power and let you come up with  good ideas quickly, rather than freezing or panicking when forced to invent  something.” – Vaux

With these tips in mind, let me welcome you to look through a little window at our January 15, 2012 activities…

Story game

Someone starts a story.  The next person builds off of it without negating what the last person said.

One of our stories involved an old man taking a shell-less turtle for a walk. Sorry I have no pics of the turtle.

Overreacting game

Teams of two people.  The first person delivers a bit of innocuous news, and the other person reacts with an extreme emotional response that s/he had determined before hearing the bit of news.  Thus their conversation continues for one minute.

“I painted your grandma’s room yellow.” –> VERY UPSET

The Nates ticking each other off about said yellow room for dead Grandma.

“I put a half teaspoon of salt in these scones.” –> GRIEVED BEYOND BELIEF

“Don’t hog the spotlight by dominating the dialogue; let other actors contribute.” – Vaux

“There’s a frog outside” –> TERRIFIED

Who knew Nathan was so scared of frogs?

“Shoot and Bag” prop game

Assemble a bag of miscellaneous items from around the house. Reach in, grab something, use it in some creative manner other than whatever it was designed for, then pose with it for a picture.

CD case for car became an ebook.

My “nook” with vel-cro for page turning sound effects

Loops of rope became a shaving cream brush…

… and armpit hair.

A passport purse became a pirate patch.  Can’t you just hear it…”Arrrg!”

Freeze Tag Acting

Two people in a scene, acting out whatever they want, but with special focus on using lots of extreme body language. An observer shouts “freeze!” and assumes the position of one of the actors. The new player than continues the scene in a new direction.  I won’t even attempt to explain these pictures.

by far my favorite

“Embrace the possibilities and fling yourself into them headlong; if you fall on  your face, it doesn’t matter. The more you lose yourself, the better you’ll be  able to conjure clever on-the-spot dialogue or create a memorable character.” – Vaux

Fling. Headlong. Both words are involved when entering the acting realm. There is something liberating about it.  Right Nathan?

By Naomi Bird

Wife of tenor Nathan Bird, pianist, organist, former music therapist, writer, tea-drinker, mom of two mini-sopranos and two mini-tenors, and learner of loving the arts.


  1. P.S. Here’s hoping I can make it over there one of these Sunday nights! Maybe I can even teach y’all some improv games I learned while doing “Spelling Bee”. They are FUN, y’all. We had a guy from ComedySportz come in and take us through *hours* of improv stuff.

  2. Keep on having a good time! It is fun to Read about it!
    Yes, I do believe I understand Patience’s perfect name!

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