Having had some experience with both low-level scripted acting and low-level improvisational performance, I can say that acting itself is quite enjoyable, and inhabiting another character is fun, really regardless of the character’s traits. This is incredibly helpful; as an author, characters are meant to be of great importance to a good story.

I cannot genuinely choose between improv and scripts–scripts are simple structures, easy to memorize, and they make the job of acting one’s character a lot easier. It’s a template upon which one may impose their personality and acting style. However, it gets boring and repetitive, especially four or five nights in a row, as in a middle school production(nonprofessional, it was in middle school–but it was pretty well-done, despite the low turnout and then the humiliation the next year of returning from my frosh year and realizing the next production was greatly decreased in quality).

Also there’s the problem of the actor’s interpretation. When I went to see The Cripple of Inishmaan, in 2013, in London, a particular character became interesting and sympathetic to me, and so his later actions became confusing. This is because the actor misplayed the character–his behavior was completely understandable and consistent in the written play itself, but because of faulty acting, I developed a fondness of the character when I should not have.

Improv, on the other hand, is absolutely wonderful. It allows the actor to be a more creative person, making decisions, and also making the situation feel real. It gives more depth if it is lacking, and it’s hard to predict. Also, it is fantastic fun–the specific character one plays is irrelevant: one takes up the mantel and becomes them with such ease, and it amuses me to slip so easily inside that suit, and redefine the “I”. I forget my life as me and I become whomever I please. Instead of “playing pretend” for hours, as an observer might have thought, I was actually improvising a story.

This has happened on multiple occasions–me goofing around with people and us eventually creating a great and pointless saga. Most notably was the time when I, with my sister and three god brothers (scratch that, the oldest wasn’t present), seemingly played pretend for about four hours, while in reality we were all suddenly characters, improvising our thoughts, and easily communicating our imaginations. It was fantastic.

Improv comedy is a little more difficult–I find it hard to come up with things to amuse people. Maybe it has something to do with my difficulty interacting with other individuals. I’d probably be more effective at standup. But it gives me great joy to perform without a script regardless of difficulties I have with it. And it’s really a large part of improvisation.

Recently I watched a rather complex film in which the scenes were improvised, and it felt very realistic in some ways, and I found that really enjoyable. Sometimes we forget about the power of the individual’s mind in films, and it was really refreshing to watch an unscripted movie, one where both the idea and the story were actually good, thanks to decent characters. I wish this would happen more often. Every time I see someone doing improv, I get excited and get an overwhelming urge to do it myself, despite lacking an actual camera, because iPods just won’t cut it.


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