Open Forum

How Much Improv Experience Do You Have?

  • 1.  How Much Improv Experience Do You Have?

    Posted 05-14-2019 14:55
    Edited by Brogan Rogan 05-14-2019 14:55
    Hi everyone! I'm working on putting together programming for teachers, to aid and support the use of improvisational acting in the classroom. As part of this effort, I'm trying to get a baseline measure of the knowledge and expertise of our community in the realm of improvisational theatre. If you could please take a few moments to fill out the attached survey, I'd really appreciate it. It should take no more than 5 minutes, and everything is multiple choice or checkboxes. This survey is for teachers only. Thank you SO much!
     


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    Maestro Rogan
    Theatre/Film Teacher
    Skyline High School, SLC, UT
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  • 2.  RE: How Much Improv Experience Do You Have?

    Posted 05-14-2019 15:45
    Greetings!
    I took the survey and would like to suggest a place for comments or an option of "other".  For example: I have been using and training in my Improvisation for over 30 years, but my type(s) of training didn't fit into any of your options. Maybe you don't need that info, but just suggesting.....
    Thanks - I'll be interested to see where this takes you!

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    Amy Learn
    Ballwin MO
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  • 3.  RE: How Much Improv Experience Do You Have?

    Posted 05-14-2019 23:47

    Thanks so much, Amy! My goal with this survey is not so much to get a comprehensive look at the ways theatre teachers experience and use improv. Rather, I'm just looking at a representative cross-section of knowledge and experience. I've also sent an identical survey to numerous improv practitioners throughout the world, and will be comparing and contrasting the responses. I want to get an idea of where the two groups line up, where they diverge, and how providing theatre teachers more access to the international improv community might change their practices. Thanks again for taking the time to fill it out! :)



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    Brogan Rogan
    Theatre/Film Teacher
    Draper UT
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  • 4.  RE: How Much Improv Experience Do You Have?

    Posted 05-15-2019 11:10
    Edited by Heather DeLude 05-15-2019 11:11
    Hey there. I spent years in Chicago and LA. I am former member of The Second City Conservatory, Improv Olympic
    (IO), ComedySportz, and The Annoyance Theater. We get roughly 100 students out to audition for our annual improv show (Freeplay), and I teach both long form and short form. I structure the troupe after The Second City with Mainstage, ETC, and touring casts. Many of my student veterans serve as coaches in the other troupes.

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    Heather DeLude
    Wilton CT
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  • 5.  RE: How Much Improv Experience Do You Have?

    Posted 05-28-2019 14:33

    Thank you once again to everyone that participated in my surveys! Lots of folks have been asking to view the results, and here they are!

    To review, I sent similar surveys to two groups of people: General Theatre Teachers (GTTs), and Improv Practitioners (IPs). The differences in results are striking! Here are the links to the results of the two different surveys:

    General Theatre Teacher Link: https://forms.gle/zpeZQGZFxZcaEuYm6

    Improv Practitioner Link: https://forms.gle/JcCTwiiQYcd7qAtE6

    Many have also pointed out some very valid criticisms of these surveys, primarily that they are extremely US-centric. I absolutely agree, and sincerely apologize. The surveys are definitely colored by my limited perspective. The surveys are also very small, with only about 70 respondents for each.

    That said, I believe there are some interesting things to take away from the results. I'll continue to analyze them as I work on fundraising and development for various programs, and I welcome others that would like to do the same. Here are some initial thoughts, though:

    1. Many GTTs do not feel confident in their experience with improv, nor in their ability to teach it. However, there is a significant number of GTTs that identify as Intermediate (or even Beginner!) in their experience with improv, but nevertheless express confidence in their ability to teach it. Meanwhile, many IPs consider themselves Advanced, but lack confidence in their ability to teach. Part of this may be a manifestation of the Dunning-Kruger effect, and part of it may also be an acknowledgment that teaching, itself, is a skill.

    2. There is a big disconnect between the GTTs and IPs in their beliefs and values about what is important to teach students. Going into these surveys, my hypothesis was that most GTTs would subscribe to a specific view of improv theory that is rooted primarily in the "rules of improv" found in older texts, but that there would be much more disagreement and nuance among the IPs, representing newer developments in the field. I believe the results of these surveys support this hypothesis.

    3. GTTs are primarily using improv as a tool to teach other theatrical skills/concepts in their classes/programs. A minority of GTTs teach improv as an art form intended to be viewed by an audience. Almost a fifth of GTTs failed to identify the purpose improv serves in their classes/programs, and instead responded that they teach "very little improv."

    4. Most GTTs are not well-acquainted with the professional improv community. Compared to IPs, they are generally unaware of many well-known groups, artists, books, and concepts in the field, and have had very limited experiences with the improv community. Of note, the one well-known improv practitioner (out of a fixed list) that a majority of GTTs are familiar with is Viola Spolin. This finding is consistent with the idea that GTTs primarily use improv as a tool, rather than as an art form.

    CONCLUSIONS:

    Teachers (and their students) would benefit greatly from more interaction with the professional improv community. Such interaction could offer teachers: more confidence teaching improv, a more up-to-date and nuanced view of improv theory, a greater willingness to teach improv as a valid and valued art form, and a better awareness of the scope of improv as an art form and community.



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    Brogan Rogan
    Theatre/Film Teacher
    Draper UT
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