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Introducing Improv to Actors on the Spectrum

Yes! It's important

and . . .  here’s a way to start

Improv is a really important part of any acting class for people on the spectrum because improv develops and strengthens underlying skills needed for social interaction including:


turn taking

eye contact

joint attention and

flexible thinking!

What’s more – it’s really fun and always surprising and, as Tina Fey writes in “Bossy Pants”

“In improv there are no mistakes, only beautiful happy accidents.”

THANKS, , Tina!

Question: So, how do we introduce and teach improvisation to this special group of actors (with a wide range of varying skills and talents)?

One Possible Answer: Luckily,  improv has a particular structure and this structure helps us to break it down into teachable parts.


Improvisations are created through AGREEMENT.

The basic premise is:

agree to whatever your acting partner says/does and add  to it!


“YES! And . . . “

Regardless of the level of vocal language ability,  all actors can find a way into the improvisation if we guide them.  Non-vocal communication including physical gestures, signs, expressions and space objects are a very important part of improv.


A good way to introduce improv is to introduce “agreement” through circle games.

Below are two  great, simple theatre  games that teach AGREEMENT and saying, “Yes!” to all offers.

Everybody Go! A circle game that builds enthusiastic acceptance of other people’s ideas (and spontaneity, gross motor imitation, staying on your spot, turn taking, joint attention, etc . . .)

Yes, Let's!  A second group theatre game involves having everyone walk around and stop when the leader calls out,

“Let’s play basketball!”

Then, everyone shouts out, “Yes, let’s!” and begins to mime playing basketball.

The group resumes their walk about until the leader calls out the next activity:

This game not only teaches acceptance and agreement but actors practice miming actions which is an important skill for improv and theatre in general. It also gets actors moving about a space without bumping or touching.

Have fun and remember: there are no mistakes in improv!

Celebrate the unexpected!

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