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Improvisation is liberating and can lead to new discoveries in the creative process—and in your life.

It is a form of play, and the Lehigh Valley Arts Council is making improvisation the centerpiece of the evening’s entertainment at our spring community event, Getting in on the Act, this Thursday, May 30, 2013, at the Arena Theatre, Haupert Union Building at Moravian College from 5:30-7:30PM.

Actors from area theatres, including Allentown Public Theatre, Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Performing Arts, Pennsylvania Playhouse, Pennsylvania Youth Theatre, and Touchstone Theatre, will team up with each other and members from the audience to improvise short scenes.

Two area directors have kindly shared their unique approach to improvisation and how they incorporate it into the rehearsal process.

JP Jordan is the artistic director of Touchstone Theatre, an ensemble theatre company that creates many original works:

If life is present, improvisation is present. It is impossible for us to stop improvising. Conversations on the street, driving our cars, playing video games; all involve improvisation. Even falling asleep can take improvising.

As actor creators and directors we must bring in to our rehearsal processes an acute realization of these daily improvisations. When needed theses improvisations are relived, many times repeated and further improvised upon till we have a set of movements that will allow us to not only motivate the performer internally but to speak to the audience in a language that breathes and flows as real life does.

Diane Wagner is on the faculty of the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Performing Arts, and uses improvisation in her acting classes and her productions:

“Depending on the piece, I might use improv toward the beginning of a rehearsal process to get actors focused on intent before they have command of the text. A helpful exercise might be for them to play a scene using only yes or no instead of what’s in the script.

Another improv exercise that can be helpful is related to status. This can be useful with all kinds of work; master/servant, lovers, family or friends. Students are given playing cards that are indicative of their status in a given relationship (the ace being the lowest status, the king the highest), and asked to stick the cards to their foreheads without looking at them first. They are then encouraged to interact with their partner(s) in a variety of ways, which allows for all parties to consider how they are being treated and how they should treat someone else based on his or her card. Scenarios can be switched up and cards can be exchanged to play with the shifting of status between characters as it might happen in a given play.”

-Diane Wagner

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