If you're in love with acting, then you'll be in love with this book. It's not one of those does and donts manuals, boring and technical, no it's full of life. Johnstone looks into your heart and will tell you about your blocks and fears and how to release them. His style is compelling and convincing and he won't shy away from making you feel bad once in a while, because he's telling the truth about acting. But it's not only about acting. reading this book you'll find out a lot about yourself and the way you behave/ act in life and to what effect you do it. The games he writes about can be played as such - namely games - with friends, or you can use them in school or in manager-tutoring (see the chapter about hirarchy) or as warm-up and instructional games before a rehearsal. The book will also broaden your mind and help you free your creativity, just by reading it! So it does all sorts of weird and wonderful things to you: Whatever you do in your life, this book will! ! make it better.
Keith Johnstone is a maverick educator and theatrical innovator. This book, first published in 1979, remains the most important book on improvisation written in English. Johnstone divides the world of improvising into four categories:Spontenaity, Narrative, Status and Masks. The stories about his own loss of creativity through the demands of public education set the frame for his illuminating description of what it takes to return us all to our creative selves. This book is a must read for anyone involved in the creative process, for all teachers of the arts and anyone who has ever wondered where his creativity has gone. Patricia Ryan, Head of Acting Stanford University
This book is actually 6 books in one. Apart from being one of the foremost authorities in the art of improv theater (1), it is 2)the finest example (I've found)of comic theory; 3)a sociology essay; 4)a concise guide to basic storytelling; 5) an amazingly progressive 'how to' teaching manual; and 6)a clear map into the creative process. There are likely other applications that I have yet to discover. This book is seminal, deep, very basic and belongs on my desk. I, too, quote from it all the time, and teach from it as well in my own improv classes. Done carefully, the lessons are fool-proof (or fool-proving!). Prepare for a paradigem shift!
It's corny to say it, but this book changed my life. I had heard vague things about how, when improvising, you are always supposed to "say yes" and be spontaneous, but didn't like the sound of it. This book lays out clearly what it means to do it (and what happens to you if you don't: you block). Even if you aren't an actor or in theater, this approach to improvisation will make you reexamine the way you "improvise" in everyday life. Are you spontaneous? Or are you always on the defensive?
Keith Johnstone has given the theatre community a bible on the par with those of Hagen and Stanislavsky. His simple approach to theatrical creativity (and creativity of all kinds) has become the basis for my work in theatre. His explanation of status will have you forever looking differently at acting, directing and writing. I reread this book often and use its concepts constantly. It is by far unfortunately one of the most overlooked books ever written about theatre.
As an improvisor who performs regularly, I was amazed at how much I got out of going back to this book again. The chapter on status is absolutely the best--I basically lifted it right out of the book and taught it to a class of beginning improvisors, with great results. The book is filled with exercises drama teachers can use, and its basic philosophy of maintaining creativity is an important one for all teachers to read.
This book is the bible of Improvisational theater and will open the eyes of anyone interested in writing, acting, performing, teaching any subject, or just interacting with other people, onstage or off. Want to be creative? Want to be really funny instead of just awkwardly goofy? Want to know why some people intimidate you while others can't hold your attention? READ THIS BOOK!!!
This book has established it self as the bible of creative thought for actors wishing to work in improvised forms - theatresport, commedia, etc. But it is really a philosophy lesson - the early chapters of the book provide a unique insight into the creative process of a man many consider a genius, which can have many useful applications for regular mortals. Opinions of the theatresport genre vary widely, and I am hardly a fan of what the form has become. But I find myself quoting from this book in all sorts of contexts - teaching actors, sculptors, and all sorts of people in need of inspiring words to open their creative resources. Read it. You will be a better person.
This book is the one that I carry around with me and refer to constantly. It should be in the collection of every serious actor, writer and director - but almost anyone can benefit from the wisdom held within these pages. As we cross in to a new millenium with questions about "Where do we go from here?" it would be wise to begin the search within ourselves. This book, in a clear and humorous way, leads the reader on an engaging voyage of self-discovery and provides various keys to unlocking the long-dormant imagination. It's a treat!