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Reviewed by Randy B. Lichtman for Readers' Favorite
Mick Napier’s Improvise: Scene from the Inside Out is an excellent resource of information on improvisational theater techniques, written primarily for intermediate to advanced improvisers. However, there is much that the novice (such as myself) can learn to develop better techniques in improvisational performance. Starting with improvisation and how the “rules” don’t always apply, he encourages actors to be creative, strong with context and character. By having a stronger character, you are better supporting your partner than relying on them to carry the weight. The only chapter which I found more difficult to comprehend was “Improvisation and the Second Law of Thermodynamics,” which refers to energy and its relationship to the laws of thermodynamics. However, most of the text is very clear and practical reading. Advanced improvisation techniques are introduced as well as an excellent section on exercises which can be practiced at home. The author describes how these exercises are to be accomplished and the purpose.
Mick Napier’s Improvise contains excellent examples of actual development of improvisational ideas, showing how dialogue can be improvised and developed with specificity. The Wizard of Oz example is often used, and makes it easy to identify with each of the techniques as they are introduced. The book contains many practical ideas throughout and the breadth of the book is excellent, especially for those who are serious about considering entering the world of improvisation professionally or even as a hobby. Further, audition techniques and a journal from his work with Second City take us into the real world of improvisational theater and help many who are interested in moving in that direction. Mick Napier has really created an exceptional handbook for improvisation.