Nov 19

Reading Around: Impro




The previous Reading Around was a review of Corporia RPG, which combined elements of cyberpunk, corporate culture and Arthurian myth.


This issue of the Reading Around series returns to the more normal format. The subject of this article is Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre, by Keith Johnstone. The blurb on the back summarizes the book as follows:


The book sets out the specific techniques and exercises which Johnstone himself found most useful and most stimulating. The result is a fascinating exploration of the nature of spontaneous creativity.

A book about improvisation has clear applications to roleplaying. The “Spontaneity” and “Narrative Skills” sections are just as helpful for GMs at the table as they are for actors on stage.


The section on Status has direct application to the portrayal of GMCs.


I first read about Impro in the pages of Interactive Fantasy magazine, back in 1995. I have long been meaning to read it, and nearly twenty years after IF, I finally tracked down a copy in Norwich library. The book was everything I had hoped it to be. Reading it now, as I am adopting a more improv-style to my gaming, made the book resonate strongly with me.


This is just a capsule review, as I want to buy my own copy, study it in greater detail, and perhaps write a couple of posts about it.


For something similar, and aimed at the RPG market, then I can recommend Play Unsafe by Graham Walmsley [affiliate link]


Happy Reading


2 pings

  1. I wish I read impro as a teenager playing roleplaying games, but perhaps I had to go through all that learning to appreciate Impro so I could put everything into situations while reading about it?

    I’ve written about Impro and how it is useful, at least to me, for roleplaying games over at Story Games:

    • Phil on August 12, 2015 at 5:12 pm
    • Reply

    Hi Rickard,

    Yes, it would have helped me from an early age too.

    Although, I have to wonder if reading it too early would simply have been wasted. I would not have been ready to play in an improvisational style, so the book would have had less for me.

    I probably should read it again soon.

    Thank you for sharing the link


  1. […] See my review of Impro for a deeper exploration of this topic. […]

  2. […] I posted a brief review of Impro here. […]

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