Winner, 2007 University & College Designers Association Design Award
Nobody says Shakespeare is dead, Antonio Fava tells us, but Commedia, they say, is dead. Why? Because clearly, he goes on, we have Shakespeare's texts, but nobody knows what to do with the improvisation that is the basis of the Commedia dell'Arte, despite massive documentation. This book by Fava, one of the few living master teachers of Commedia dell'Arte, is the first aesthetic and methodological study of the traditional Italian theater form--the first to describe, in a precise and practical way, what Commedia is and what it should be.
The mask--as object, symbol, character, theatrical practice, even spectacle itself--is the central metaphor around which Fava builds his discussion of structure, themes, characters, and methods. Drawing on twenty years of research conducted through his work as performer, director, mask maker, and scholar, he offers extensive practical, philosophical, and technical guidelines to performing the stock characters of Commedia, observing its structure, extracting its poetics, exploring its themes, and using the mask. A densely layered text combining historical fact, personal experience, philosophical speculation, and passionate opinion, and including copious illustrations--period drawings, prints, and color photographs of leather Commedia masks made by Fava himself--The Comic Mask in the Commedia dell'Arte is a rich work of singular insight into one of the world's most venerable forms of theater.
Here is the thoroughly revised third edition of the bible of improvisational theater.
Viola Spolin's improvisational techniques changed the very nature and practice of modern theater. The first two editions of Improvisation for the Theater sold more than 100,000 copies and inspired actors, directors, teachers, and writers in theater, television, film. These techniques have also influenced the fields of education, mental health, social work, and psychology.
<a href="title.cfm?ISBN=0-8101-4007-1">Also available: Spolin's <i>Theater Game File</i></a>
Gilles Mouëllic Amsterdam University Press, 2014 Library of Congress PN1995.9.E96M6514 2013 | Dewey Decimal 791.43
This spirited volume explores the history and diversity of improvisation in the cinema, including works by Jean Renoir, Jean-Luc Godard, and Nobuhiro Suwa. Gilles Mouëllic examines improvisational practices that can be specifically attributed to the cinema and argues in favors of their powers as instigators of unprecedented forms of expression. Improvising Cinema reflects both on the permanence of attempting improvisation and the relationship between technology and aesthetics. Mouëllic concludes preservation becomes even more invaluable in the case of improvisation, as the creative act exists only within the brief time span of the performance.
The Lone Actor
Viola Spolin Northwestern University Press, 2001 Library of Congress PN2071.I5S63 2001 | Dewey Decimal 792.028
Viola Spolin's Theater Games for the Lone Actor offers theater games and side coaching for the solo player. Available for the first time, this handbook presents more than forty exercises that allow actors to side coach themselves at home, in rehearsal, or in performance.
Spolin's improvisational techniques changed the nature and practice of modern theater. Her work has inspired actors, directors, teachers, and writers in theater, television, and film. Her techniques have also influenced the fields of education, mental health, social work, and psychology.
Because mask improvisation work is relatively new in American theater training, this book is designed not only to acquaint readers with the theory of mask improvisation but to instruct them in the techniques of method as well.
Featuring dozens of improvisational exercises in the innovative spirit of Viola Spolin, and supplemented with practical appendices on mask design and construction, forms and checklists, and other classroom materials, this book is an invaluable tool for teacher and student alike, as well as compelling reading for anyone interested in acquiring a deeper understanding of masks as agents of transformation, creativity, and performance.
Process: An Improviser's Journey
Mary Scruggs and Michael J. Gellman, with an foreword by Anne Libera Northwestern University Press, 2007 Library of Congress PN2071.I5S38 2008 | Dewey Decimal 792.028
Process: An Improviser's Journey is an invaluable resource for mastering improv. Author, teacher, and improviser Michael Gellman was given a mission by famed improv coach Del Close: “[T]o create improvised one-act plays of literary quality from scratch.” Already steeped in the world of improvisation, he took it upon himself to do this, in the form of a class for other improvisers in which they would build the skills necessary to execute such a seemingly tall order. Scruggs and Gellman’s book, modeled after Stanislavski’s timeless An Actor Prepares, follows a fictional young actor taking Gellman’s real-life class.
Scruggs and Gellman introduce readers to Geoff, who has just moved to Chicago to pursue acting. He undergoes the standard trials of audition and rejection before he takes the advice of a fellow actor and turns to improv classes at Second City. At first, Geoff thinks improvisation is about laughs and loosening up, but he soon learns that it is a powerful tool as well as an end in itself. Through Geoff’s eyes, the book introduces readers to key tenets of improvisation: concentration, visualization, focus, object work, being in the moment, and the crucial “yes, and.” His experiences with the basics of improvisation do serve to get him a few roles, but his real breakthrough comes when he signs up for an improvised one-act class with Michael Gellman. He and his classmates arrive unprepared for the challenge, but with Gellman’s prompts and advice, they slowly move through process to performance over the course of three seasons in Chicago. The class culminates with their final project: a completely improvised one-act play performed in front of a live audience.
It all began in a converted Chinese laundry on Chicago's north side on a cold December night in 1959. No one could have known that by the next century, The Second City would have established itself as the premier comedy institution in the world. Taking its act north, The Second City would build a second permanent home in Toronto where it would create the Emmy-Award winning television series "SCTV." Pioneering the use of improvisation in developing talent and creating satiric revue comedy, The Second City has become - in the words of the New York Times - "A Comedy Empire."
The Second City Almanac of Improvisation - like the theatre itself - is a collection of diverse ideas, viewpoints, and memories, written by a vast array of teachers, actors, and directors who all got their start at the legendary comedy theatre. Fred Willard recalls his introduction to The Second City style in the mid-Sixties; Tim Kazurinsky gives a hilarious visual demonstration on the art of object work; "Saturday Night Live" star Tina Fey talks about re-improvising material as a mode of writing revue comedy; noted director Mick Napier takes on the thorny debate between long-form improvisation and short-form improvisation. Anne Libera guides the reader through each essay by providing a road map for understanding how The Second City method of improv-based comedy has become the industry standard.
Mike Nichols, Elaine May, Alan Arkin, Joan Rivers, Robert Klein, Peter Boyle, Harold Ramis, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, John Candy, Martin Short, Gilda Radner, George Wendt, Jim Belushi, Bonnie Hunt, Mike Myers, Ryan Stiles, Rachel Dratch, Nia Vardalos - no other theatre can boast an alumni list of this magnitude. The Second City Almanac of Improvisation provides practical instruction, personal details, and inspiration to both improvisers and their fans.
Theater Games for Rehearsal: A Director’s Handbook, first published in 1985, is a practical application of Viola Spolin’s famous method that guides directors and their companies step-by-step through all phases of the rehearsal period. Spolin shows in easy-to-follow detail how her techniques can be used for a variety of theater situations, ranging from selecting plays or material to be performed, casting, and building a harmonious company to warming up actors, creating stage space, and overcoming opening night jitters.
The edition reflects Spolin’s wished-for updates: five important exercises have been added, and instructions presenting her improvisational approach have been clarified throughout. Her wealth of useful notes remain undiminished. Sidecoaching instructions and game evaluations are boxed and highlighted for on-the-spot reading by the director, in rehearsal. Viola Spolin has been called "the high priestess of improvisational theater," and the method that she created andpresented in her books not only remains the pedagogical standard but has found an even wider audience beyond theater.
Featuring a new foreword by renowned film director Rob Reiner, the updated edition is a necessary addition to any theater bookshelf.