Where did the magic of improv come from?

For hundreds of years, the Lord Chamberlain‘s office had the ability to censor any plays or performances they wanted. They were able to control the means of production and would send monitors to make sure that no one changed the script.

Creativity was stunted. As a play writer or performer, you weren’t allowed the freedom to explore the edges, to see what might work. You had to stick with what was proven and accepted.

Until a ruckus maker in the 1960’s named Viola Spolin brought a new set of games to performers. She would have the performers improvise characters and scenes on the spot. That forward motion was taken to a new level in the 70’s with Keith Johnstone by challenging directors to recognize the value of breaking the script.

And with that, improv was born.

Precisely because they went off script and went against the status-quo, they were able to do something remarkable, something totally different. They brought the element of surprise.

That’s the magic.

We don’t know what is coming next but when we are willing to show up and play are parts, we are able to create magic too.