Leading, Collaborating, and Creating Beyond the Theatre

Edited by Theresa Robbins Dudeck and Caitlin McClure (Methuen Drama 2018)

This collection of Applied Improvisation stories and strategies draws back the curtain on an exciting, innovative, growing field of practice and research that is changing the way people lead, create, and collaborate. Applied Improvisation is the umbrella term widely used to denote the application of improvised theatre's theories, tenets, games, techniques, and exercises beyond conventional theatre spaces, to foster the growth and/or development of flexible structures, new mindsets, and a range of inter and intra-personal skills required in today's volatile and uncertain world. This edited collection offers one of the first surveys of the range of practice, featuring 12 in-depth case studies by leading Applied Improvisation practitioners and a foreword by Phelim McDermott and Lee Simpson.

The contributors in this anthology are professional Applied Improvisation facilitators working in sectors as diverse as business, social science, theatre, education, law, and government. All have experienced the power of improvisation, have a driving need to share those experiences, and are united in the belief that improvisation can positively transform just about all human activity.



Applied Improvisation is a world-class textbook for those who want to learn how to teach corporate and nonprofit groups improvisation skills. It's also an inspiring idea book for anyone who wants to bring the magic of theatre to their organization. After reading this remarkable work, you'll be eager to start on your own improv adventure” ~  Daniel H. Pink, author of To Sell Is Human, Drive, and A Whole New Mind

“Applied Improvisation triumphantly reveals to us, with passionate and fascinating research, by seasoned practitioners, over and over again how the power of this transformative art form can spread its positive and proactive influence over myriad walks of the human experience” ~ Keegan-Michael Key, actor, writer, producer, and alum of The Second City

“Actors often underestimate the phenomenal personal responsibility required of them when learning improvisation. Applied Improvisation demands a new understanding of what the improviser's responsibility might be, and as this book brilliantly reveals, it doesn't need actors or theatre spaces, but a new sense of purpose. This inspirational book will help you find it” ~  Geoffrey Colman, Head of Acting, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, UK

“Having used applied improvisation for ideation with design teams, I was inspired to read about the myriad other ways it can create positive movement and new practices. Improv opens pathways of possibilities where situations and thoughts seem locked and rigid. Twelve compelling case studies, plus practical tools anyone can use” ~ Katy Tisch, Vice President, Creative Director, Global Nike Retail Design

Keith Johnstone entered the Royal Court Theatre as a new playwright in 1956: a decade later he emerged as a groundbreaking director and teacher of improvisation. His decisive book Impro (1979), described Johnstone's unique system of training: weaving together theories and techniques to encourage spontaneous, collaborative creation using the intuition and imagination of the actors. Johnstone has since become world-renowned, inspiring theatre greats and beginners alike; and his work continues to influence practice within and beyond the traditional theatre.

Theresa Robbins Dudeck is the first author to rigorously examine Johnstone's life and career using a combination of archival documents – many from Johnstone's personal collection – participant observation, and interviews with Johnstone, his colleagues and former students. 

Keith Johnstone: A Critical Biography (2013) is a fascinating journey through the physical spaces that have served as Johnstone's transformative classrooms, and into the conceptual spaces which inform his radical pedagogy and approach to artistic work.


“The book succeeds as an illuminating companion to Johnstone's writing and for anyone who wants to add to their understanding of how to improvise ... This is a living history and one which is required reading for anyone who has ever improvised and wants to know the pedagogical philosophy and principles ... An invaluable and inspiring insight into the influences and experiences that have shaped an unsung genius of twentieth-century theatre” ~ New Theatre Quarterly

“[Dudeck's] aim of balancing scholarship with accessibility is ably achieved in this unsentimental critical biography that greatly enriches our understanding of the system, and its enigmatic creator and, crucially, the pedagogic principles that drive both” ~  Theatre Notebook

“As a whole, Dudeck's biography provides a balanced and thorough critique of one of the most under-recognized theatre practitioners of the twentieth century. Ideal for both Impro veterans and novices of spontaneity, this text will serve as an infinitely useful supplement to Johnstone's own texts and other historical accounts of improvisational theory and practice” ~ Theatre Topics

"Dudeck presents an engaging and much-needed scholarly analysis of Johnstone and his work, masterfully weaving theory and practice together in a text that is certain to find diverse and appreciative audiences" ~ Theatre History Studies

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