Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art, Stephen Nachmanovich. Tarcher/Putnam, 1990.
When everything happens in “real time”, we have improvisation, whether it’s music or drama (or software!). Nachmanovitch explores the interplay of freedom and rules, of work and play, of practice and performance. Using art, music, and more, he leads us to explore creativity, in a touching and thought-provoking way. (Reviewed July, ’06)
Musical Improv Comedy, Michael Pollock. Masteryear Publishing, 2003.
This is a slim volume, about 100 pages, plus a CD. Being able to improvise songs on demand is a skill that appeals to me. This book certainly didn’t make me an instant musical improviser (far from it), but it does suggest a path forward. (Reviewed Jan., ’06)
MouthSounds: How to whistle, pop, boing, and honk, Fred Newman. Workman Publishing, 2004. ISBN 0761134220.
I love books that are a smorgasbord, and this one certainly qualifies. Flip to any page, and you’ll find an interesting sound to make. Great fun. (Reviewed May, ’05)
Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre, Keith Johnstone. Routledge, 1979.
Improvisational acting techniques are influencing the training world. They help you look at everything that happens as something you can say, “Yes, and” to, and create new and interesting things. Johnstone looks at how posture and other cues convey status, at the challenges of being spontaneous, at building one’s narrative skills, and at masks and trance as a pathway to creating new characters. (Reviewed Dec., ’02)
Training to Imagine: Practical Improvisational Theatre Techniques to Enhance Creativity, Teamwork, Leadership, and Learning, Kat Koppett. Stylus Publishing, 2001.
For improv techniques, think of the Drew Carey show “Whose Line is It Anyway?” Improv ideas can make learning memorable; they feel risky, but freeing. (Reviewed Nov., ’02)