We now budget 20% of any session for improvisation. Why? Because it is often when the magic happens.
Running a great workshop is about setting the right conditions for success. This means attending to things like being clear about outputs, giving people tools to use to generate those outputs and managing the groups energy across a day, days or a week.
Once the conditions are right, good people will create good things. You have to let them go and see where their imagination takes them.
Here’s a excerpt from a great book “And Here’s the Kicker” by Mike Sacks. This is from his interview with Director/Actor Harold Ramis:
Sacks: Judge Reinhold, who acted in Stripes, said that the director, Ivan Reitman, was able to control the Army and the tanks and everything else connected with the shoot, but the only thing he couldn’t control was Bill Murray.
Ramis: Well, you don’t try. I mean, I never try to control an actor. You understand the parameters and you work within them? It’s like that great saying, “You ride the horse in the direction it’s going.” Billy goes his own way. But he’ll go my way if he thinks it’s a good way. So my job is not to force the actor to do anything; it’s to convince them. Billy was smart enough to know a good thing when he heard it. If I said, “Try this” or “Try that,” and it was really funny, he’d do it.
Running a great workshop takes the same skill. “Try this” or “Try that..” If it opens new doors for insight or ideas, people will try it.
In film, the benefits of improvisation are famous. Here are 25 of the greatest improvised scenes in history.