Worthwhile improvisation cannot be reduced to a formula, and this book is not just a list of games and rules – “Don’t be Prepared” illustrates how good improvisation games come from theory, and explains their purpose and specific teaching objectives.
Creating an improvisation game from thin air is almost impossible best you can do is to adapt existing games). This is because games are an expression of theory.
If we assumed that improvisers kill their spontaneity by thinking ahead and that this thinking is verbal, we could screw up such ‘planning’ by saying, ‘Invent a story by adding a word each,’ or ‘Every sentence has to be a question.’ If we assume that drama is about one person being altered by another, this could lead to He Said/She Said games in which the players get their stage directions from their partners, or to the Box in the Pocket Game, in which a character who operates him/herself from a sort of TV zapper unwisely loans it to another person.
If such theories were correct, these would be useful games (and they are), yet I’ve met coaches who have no interest in theory, who just want ‘new’ games that they can exploit for their novelty value. I’ve even heard them say, ‘All that matters is that you keep ‘em laughing!’ as if improvisation was just a branch of stand-up comedy.
Almost all of the games in this book were created by one or more of the following ideas:
That improvisers defend themselves against imaginary dangers as if these dangers were real.
That ’splitting the attention’ allows some more creative part of the personality to operate.
That drama is about dominance and submission.
That stories achieve structure by referring back to earlier events.
That the spectators want to see the actors in states of transition, and being altered by each other.
That improvisers need ‘permission’ to explore extreme states.
That when we think ahead, we miss most of what’s happening (on the stage as in life).
Impro For Storytellers, Keith Jonsthone (Chapter 7 – Story Games)
Source: improviser.fr La théorie derrière les exercices