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ianmcrawford

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Reply with quote  #1 
Over the past few months I have spent every Wednesday evening at a drop in IMPROV class.  I am now beginning to see the benefits that improv has on performance.  There are about a dozen people in each class.  A typical class starts with a couple of group warm ups, then we launch into Improv Games.  If you've seen "Whose Like Is It Anyway" on TV, you will quickly get the idea.

Each member of the group is dependant on the others to make the scene work.  There are some standard (and unexpected) rules to keep the scenes moving.  For example, we recently experimented with a scene.  Some members were encouraged to make the scene funny, other were encouraged to simply make the scene flow.  The forced funny scenes were not nearly as funny as the forced flow scenes.  And at the end of each game, the leader (who is a theatre director) give notes on the performance.  I suspect a few of the attendees don't pay much attention to the notes, but they are a gold mine of theatrical tips and training.  I've started to incorporate this new theatrical training into my magic and I can see a clear benefits.

I won't belabour the point, but I highly recommend Improv for magicians.  A few benefits:
- greater understanding of theatre performance
- opportunity to experiment in a safe, non-judgemental environment
- see, learn and understand performance from a theatrical perspective
- meet new people who are surprisingly similar to magicians
- build and play with your magic character - if your character is a master wizard (or uber hipster dude or whatever), you simply perform your Improv scenes as a master wizard and see what works.
- And have an evening filled with laughter ( - can't get much better than that)

Improv classes are easy to find, just google Improv + your community.  I am sure there is one nearby.
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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #2 
That's a great idea Ian. There's an excellent, albeit hard to get, book by Keith Johnstone titled "IMPRO - Improvisation and the Theatre." This book is solid gold, both for Improv and magicians.

I just looked on Amazon and it appears to be available for $27 in paperback. Too bad they don't have a cheaper eBook.

Amazon also has some spin-off e.g. "A Guide to Keith Johnstones Theatresports" and "A Guide to Keith Johnstone's Gorilla Theatre." I'm not sure what the content of those books is.

Mike
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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #3 
Good stuff, Ian! Living in the relative boonies as I do, there are few such opportunities, but I can certainly see the value. Please keep us posted on your progress and how it has strengthened your performance of magic.

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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #4 
There's a bunch of videos of Keith J on YouTube.

YOUTUBE LINK

Mike
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Socrates

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Reply with quote  #5 
Here's a second vote for seeking out improvisation classes. Your magic will improve exponentially as will your thinking. It'll give you many benefits and allow you to have fun, meet new people, and learn to flow with situations as they happen.  This is great for all aspects of magic and mentalism.

Mike already mentioned Impro by Keith Johnstone.  This book is most informative.  It has a section on status interactions which is eye-opening and extremely beneficial.  Another good book to get is Improv Wisdom by Patricia Ryan Madison.  She takes the concepts of improvisation and applies them to everyday life, plus the book contains lots of exercises to help you integrate and apply the skills.   

Reading these books will stimulate your mind, but getting to a class and practicing the concepts in a safe environment is key to really learning how to do this stuff.  And if there are no classes in your location it may be worth seeking out a weekend workshop to attend as improvisation is a most valuable skill for us magicians.

In fact take the money you plan to spend on new books/DVD in 2019 and invest it in improvisation workshops/classes instead - you and your audiences will be massively rewarded in doing so.
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #6 
Awesome!  Glad it is making a difference for you.  Another couple of things that can help magicians is vocal training and dance classes.  Vocal training, whether it is public speaking or singing, can help you feel more comfortable in front of an audience.  Dance, because so much of magic is physical.  It helps your balance, your movement and coordination.  It all adds up to helping you be a more well-rounded performer.

I majored in communications and was originally intending upon a career in broadcasting so I took public speaking, voice and theater classes.  They all have helped even though my path led me into sales.  When I give a presentation, and I do plenty of them, I use a lot of what I learned.  Especially body language and vocal skills that I developed.

Thanks for posting about your experience.  Feel free to give more details as it is helpful and appreciated!

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