Improv – The Hardest Part of Storytelling

A story is often broken down into 5 components:  Setting, Character, Plot, Conflict and Theme.  In this year’s Improv Challenge the 4 Improv elements we’re given map onto these as follows:

Setting <— Location

Conflict <— Situation

Character <– Improv Game + Street Performance

Plot <— Improv Game + Imagination

Theme <— Improv Game + Imagination + Street Performance

Recall that we’ve made the following selections for this year:

Improv Games:  Superheros, Game/Quiz Show, Infomercial, Newscast, Award Show, Dating Game

Street Performance:  Caroling, Escape Artistry, Dance Battle, Flash Mob, Ventriloquism, Mime

Some story elements are a simple one-to-one mapping with improv elements:  Setting/Location and Conflict/Situation.  Others story elements map onto several improv elements.  For example, the Improv Game and Street Performance determine the minimal complement of characters in a scene.  Given Game Show and Mime improv elements we know we have at minimum a game show host, contestants, Vanna White prize air caressrer and at least one mime (who could also be the game show host and/or one or more contestants.

In our practices, we’ve found out that developing and superimposing a good, solid and complete narrative arc is the hardest part of telling a story via improv.  I am drilling the following diagram into everyones’ retinas so that they can visualize this to help them sketch out a complete narrative in their 1 min prep time at the tournament.





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