AdlerImprov – For Actors, Not Chariactures

Through spontaneity we are re-formed into ourselves. It creates an explosion that for the moment frees us from handed-down frames of reference, memory choked with old facts and information and undigested theories and techniques of other people’s findings. Spontaneity is the moment of personal freedom when we are faced with reality and see it, explore it and act accordingly. In this reality the bits and pieces of ourselves function as an organic whole. It is the time of discovery, of experiencing, of creative expression.

-Viola Spolin

My father taught drama at Gordon Tech High School in Chicago during the early 70’s. According to a family friend, he was a really good actor. After he passed away, my mother gave me his copy of Viola Spolin’s “Improvisation for the Theater.” He highlighted the quote above.

For anyone that’s ever walked through the halls of Chicago’s Second City or taken an improv class, you know that Viola is considered the mother of improv. Her son, Paul Sills, was the founding director of the Compass Players, which led to the formation of Second City.

Rob Adler is one of the handful of people in the world that focuses exclusively on teaching (and expanding upon) Viola’s work. He uses the very same theater games to teach how to improvise when you can’t change the words – presence, emotion, spontaneous subtext and living moment to moment in the imaginary world of the script, particularly TV and film scripts.

Rob is an actor, director, teacher and the founder of AdlerImprov in Hollywood, an on-camera coach for Lionsgate, Disney, FOX, NBC and ABC’s production companies, and a faculty member of the USC School of Dramatic Arts.

I started Intro to AdlerImprov back in January and transitioned into Advanced AdlerImprov in February. It’s absolutely changed my acting approach. I’ve become more focused and specific in auditions, from what’s happening in the space to my interactions with imaginary objects and people. It’s basically galvanized all my training to date into one class – everything is coming together. It’s also provided a stable community of really talented people to explore, expand and share experiences each week. And most importantly, it’s reminded me why I started acting in the first place – because it’s fun. And playing each week has reinforced that feeling.

One of my big takeaways to date was, “What if I approached every scene as a game?” Rob may not necessarily agree with that statement 100 percent, but it reminds me of something Adrian Danzig, the founder of 500 Clown once said in class, “Instead of approaching acting as taking a risk, what if we approached it as if we were going on an adventure?” Indeed, what if we just played?