Applying Improv to Acting

by Heather Burgess


Students will demonstrate their ability to take risks and follow impulses by using improv techniques in a minute to minute-and-thirty second monologue.


Class Level:



Main Concepts:

Risk taking, following impulses, trusting yourself and others


1994 National Standards:

Content Standard 1: Script writing through improvising, writing, and refining scripts based on personal experience and heritage, imagination, literature, and history

Content Standard 2: Acting by developing, communicating, and sustaining characters in improvisations and informal or formal productions


Prior Experience:

Objective-tactic use, monologue form, fairly advanced scene work, body and voice work, characterization, listening to the room


Author’s Notes:

This is a very hands-on unit. There will not be much lecture. Students will be discovering the improv principles through practice.

Often in this unit, students will do a scene with a partner, and everyone will be going at the same time. Then, they sometimes do it with their partner in front of the class. When this occurs, students can choose whether to continue with the same scene they were doing or start a new one.


Lesson Plans

Lesson 1: Trust and Vulnerability
Students will demonstrate their ability to trust themselves and their classmates by participating in a vulnerability circle.


Lesson 2: Trusting Impulses
Students will demonstrate their ability to trust their impulses by participating in a ring master scene.


Lesson 3: Accepting and Adding

Students will demonstrate their ability to accept and add by participating in an approximately 2 minute improvised scene with a partner where they must accept and add.


Lesson 4: Focus!

Students will demonstrate their ability to focus on their partner by mirroring them while improvising a scene.


Lesson 5: Using Relationship and Status

The students will be able to demonstrate their understanding of the use of status in relationships by doing an improvised scene with a partner in which they must switch status three times.


Lesson 6: Choosing a Monologue

Students will choose a monologue to be performed as part of the final assessment of the unit.


Lesson 7: Improv + Monologues = <3

Students will demonstrate their understanding of how to use improv in a monologue by using improv techniques in a minute to minute and a half monologue.


Lesson 8: Final Performances
Students will perform their full monologues using improv techniques we have learned throughout the unit.



Applying Improv to Acting Unit of Lessons.Heather Burgess