Physical Improv Instruction and Coaching

Physical Improv Instruction and Coaching

Articles and resources for Object Work, Environment, and Physicality.
Info for players of any experience, skill, and mobility level.
Boost your Physical Improv skills and become a well-rounded improviser!

Dazzle audiences.
Have more fun in improv.
Become a spectacular* performer.

* as in “exciting to look at” as well as “especially great”

  • Has your improv become stale and repetitive?
  • Do most of your scenes take place “in the void?”
  • Are they static and talk-heavy?
  • Do you often get stuck wondering what to do or say next?
  • Want to round out your improv skills and be a better player?

Then you’ve come to the right place. Here you’ll find improv tips and resources focusing specially on environment, object work, and physicality in character and performance.

You’re not just an improviser — YOU are an Illusionist

You create stories, characters, and worlds from nothing. You make the audience see what isn’t there.

Audiences are spellbound by this. But only if you can do it well.

Dazzle audiences

If you’re careless with object work, you kill the magic. You walk through tables and closed doors. You put objects down in one place and pick them up somewhere else. While you think your scene is about doing the laundry, your partner sees you feeding a goat.

These illusions break the reality of your improv scene. The audience becomes confused, detached, sometimes even resentful.

But if you learn to make clear physical offers, you’ll draw the audience into the show. Give them locations, objects, and activities — something to SEE — and they will LOVE you for it. Even though there’s nothing actually there.

Have more fun in improv

Improv is just like the let’s pretend games you played as a kid. But as a grownup, it’s easy to get stuck in your head. You want original characters, complex stories, nuanced ideas. If you think too much, you get wooden, talking-head scenes. Performing feels like work.

Improv philosophy says to just play. Learn to explore environment in your scenes, and the stage becomes your playground. Your scenes will be more energetic and unpredictable — more watchable. And you’ll have more fun doing them.

Become a spectacular performer

Here’s my bold claim:

Master your Physical Improv skills and you will never be at a loss for what to do next.

Environment, object work, and physicality open up new sources of ideas. If you’ve ever struggled with what to say or do next in a scene, these skills can help.

They also add depth and dimension to your characters and stories. You’ll become a more flexible, well-rounded player. Audiences and your fellow players will notice.

Questions & Answers about Physical Improv

Q: What is “Physical Improv?”

A: In Physical Theatre, movement and physicality are the primary mode of storytelling. Physical Improv incorporates physicality in character and performance, but it also refers to any technique that creates an illusion of physical objects, activities, and locations for improvisation. (Hence the name Improv Illusionist.)

Yes, this includes object work (mime) and exploring your environment. But in some situations, even dialogue or emotional reactions can do this. For example, shuddering in terror as you describe a tornado bearing down on you is a perfectly legitimate example of Physical Improv. Even players with mobility challenges can draw their audience into powerful illusions.

Physical Improv is a set of skills, not a style or a different way of improvising. You don’t have to give up what you already do well, and all the other elements of improv are still in play. Physical Improv is a multiplier that gives you more options and more ideas. It makes you more expressive, more involving, more entertaining.

Q: Isn’t this just beginner’s stuff? I’ve been improvising for years, why should I care about object work and environment?

A: It’s true that most players learn the physical basics early in training. But activities and locations can give you ideas for “advanced” scene elements like character, relationship, narrative, game of the scene, and more. Experienced improvisers can benefit even more than beginners from learning how everything links together.

Plus, cleaning up bad habits and rounding out your skill set will make your shows, auditions, and workshops more successful.

Q: I’m terrible at mime. It feels awkward and I look like a goof. Do I really need object work?

A: Even if you’re a verbal ninja, eventually your characters have to do something. Physical Improv skills help you dazzle audiences, have more fun in scenes, and become a spectacular improviser.

You don’t have to train with a European clown master to level up your skills. All it takes are a few tips and some practice. You’ll learn all about it here.

David Raitt - Headshot

Hi, I’m David Raitt. I’ve been performing and teaching improv and sketch comedy for over 25 years.
MY MISSION: To help improvisers everywhere (re-)learn the power of environment, object work, and physicality in character and performance.

If you want to master the Improv Illusion, round out your skills, and have more fun improvising, I think you’ll like what I have here.

The best place to start is with my book. Or you can learn the basics for free with my introductory email series and monthly newsletter.

And check out the rest of the website for articles, a growing list of exercises for physical skills, and other improv resources (in the menu above). Reach out and say “Hi!” anytime. I love to hear from fellow performers, and I’m here to serve.

Welcome to Improv Illusionist!

Level up your Physical Improv skills!

The Improv Illusionist by David Raitt - Book Cover

The Improv Illusionist is the first book dedicated to physical improv. Learn how to use object work, environment, and physicality in performance.