“Copy, repeat and complete.” — Bart Van Loon, 7th April 2017, Mainz (DE)

One of my favourite mantra’s of Keith Johnstone is to not be creative. We are not making stuff up! Creativity is a thought process.

We want to re-act, use what is already there and read the situation to come to truly inspirational scenes. Don’t use what’s in your head already, use what can be found on stage by copying stuff, repeating stuff and, ultimately, completing it.

As improvisers, our true power lies in spotting all kinds of patterns and completing them as obviously as possible.

"Copy, repeat and complete." -- Bart Van Loon, 7th April 2017, Mainz (DE) Click To Tweet


“Repetition is good!” — Missie Peters, 29th January 2016, Amsterdam (NL)

Granted, this quote comes from Missie’s workshop on improvised poetry, but isn’t repetition always good on the improv stage? Sondheim often said that on stage everything┬á needs to be in service of clarity, without which everything else is meaningless. Repetition is a great way of increasing clarity in a scene.

Clarity is the absence of clutter. We avoid clutter by refraining from bringing too much stuff into the scene. Repetition therefore serves two purposes: it keeps us from bringing something new in, and it highlights something that was already there.

Yes. Repetition is good!

"Repetition is good!" -- Missie Peters, 29th January 2016, Amsterdam (NL) Click To Tweet


Listen for repetition

“Listen as if you would have to repeat.” — Anders Fors, 17th January 2016, Kampenhout (BE)

In real life conversations, we listen to people with our reply in mind. As the other person is talking, we are preparing our reply and often can’t wait saying it. In the worst case, this leads to us interrupting the other person and in the majority of times it makes us miss parts of what was being said.

I believe one of the worst crimes you can commit on an improv stage, is not being able to repeat what has just been said. Be it by a narrator, your partner in the scene, by people in the scene while you’re out or an audience suggestion.

Awareness of every detail is crucial. Moreover, your reply isn’t so interesting anyway. We’re more interested in your honest reaction, than merely your reply.