How to Improvise a Full-Length Play: The Art of Spontaneous Theater

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How to Improvise a Full-Length Play: The Art of Spontaneous Theater is a book by Kenn Adams.

Theory and content

The book outlines a structure by which an ensemble can improvise full length plays. Narrative-driven theatre is the goal of this work. This structure is a thoroughly-expanded version of Adams' The Story Spine, which consists of the following prompts for a narrative:

  • Once upon a time...
  • Every day...
  • But, one day...
  • Because of that...
  • Because of that...
  • Because of that...
  • Until, finally...
  • And, ever since then...

In certain ways. Adams' show structure can be seen as a longform. It differs, however, in that that is strives to guide the story and progression of the show, not the ordering and length of its scenes. While a Harold's structure will tell improvisers the more practical nuts and bolts of a scene (which and how many improvisers belong in each scene, when connections are supposed to occur, etc.), Adams' instead instructs them as to how to support the overall theatrical nature of the show (establishing a "Question of the Play," how to root conflict in characters' relationship, etc.)


Adams fine-tuned his theories through work with the Synergy Theater near Berkeley, California.

Table of Contents

The 176 page book is divided into 8 chapters.

  1. Improvisation
  2. Getting Started
  3. The Structure of a Full Length Play
  4. The Structure of a Substantial Scene
  5. Creating Characters
  6. Creating Environments
  7. Putting It Together
  8. Conclusion

See also

External links