Drama students from 7th-grade semester, and year-long, classes recently presented their understanding of technique and skill through improvisation. They began by explaining to parents what improv skills are good for and how they can be used in real-life. Students said that they helped with spontaneous conversation, making on the spot decisions, managing situations that arise quickly, and even helped them to manage their teachers better. A student likened improv to soccer, you have one second to decide one of four ways to go.
After researching games on ‘how to improve improv’ they selected two. The first involved pulling an open-ended phrase out of a jar. The student had to read the phrase and then ‘improvise’ the answer. For example, they might draw ‘I wouldn’t want to be in an elevator when….’ To which they would have to supply the rest of the sentence. The second game was called “opening lines.” In this game, one student pulled out a phrase and read it. A second student had to respond quickly and then an improvised conversation ensued.
Ms. Laura Loran, MS Drama Teacher, says that students “Learn to make ‘I statements’ and reply with phrases that offer to build the story and make direct statements.” This skill helps students in problem-solving and creating conversation. HS Drama students came with Mr. Jim McLean and worked with the MS students on those skills after demonstrating some improvisation of their own.
Parents were surprised at the confidence that they saw in their children and how they progressed over the year. Ironically, when the audience left, the students wanted to play longer and to continue to build upon their stories.