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Improvisational theatre, often called improvisation or improv, is the form of theatre, often comedy, in which most or all of what is performed is unplanned or unscripted: created spontaneously by the performers. In its purest form, the dialogue, action, story, and characters are created collaboratively by the players as the improvisation unfolds in present time, without use of an already prepared, written script.
Forms of Improv
Most modern improv comedy is divided between two types: shortform and longform. Shortform improv consists of short scenes with a predetermined game or set of rules. Examples of shortform include theatresports and the games played on the TV show Whose Line is it Anyway? Longform improv consists of longer shows comprised of one or more scenes, usually inspired by a single audience suggestion. There are many existing longform structures, or forms, which a longform show might employ.
Improv comedy has a long history, and was impacted by many artists such as Viola Spolin, Paul Sills, and Del Close.
Most improv resides on a few core principles, primarily agreement with your scene partner, also known as "yes, and".