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Keith Johnstone


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Table of Contents

1 Introducing Keith Johnstone and his Impro System 2 The formative years First forays in teaching Waiting for Godot The Royal Court Theatre - A 'School' for playwrights Samuel Beckett - An arranged meeting Sunday Night productions without decor The Writers' Group Eleven Men Dead at Hola Camp - An improvised dramatic protest Johnstone as a Royal Court Theatre director Court politics The Knack 3 All the world is a classroom The Royal Court Theatre Studio Clowning Johnstone's last season at the Royal Court The Performing Giant The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts The Theatre Machine Johnstone teaches beyond Britain Theatre Machine back at the Court and Johnstone's courtship Johnstone and Eugenio Barba The Last Bird in Copenhagen Emigration 4 The master teacher in the university classroom O Canada! Johnstone's new hom Johnstone's first staging of Godot The University of Calgary Drama 200 and Drama 300 Vakhtangov and Zen Teacher-student interaction Production work at the University of Calgary Live Snakes and Ladders Johnstone's legacy at the University of Calgary 5 From classroom to world stage: The Loose Moose Theatre Company The Loose Moose Theatre Company Beginning of Theatresports Waiting for Godot and The Last Bird again Theatresports Tournaments and The Loose Moose Hamlet Loose Moose finds a home A Pinteresque season Bustling and broke Unsportsmanlike conduct Loose Moose moves forward Impro and Theatresports in Sweden Festival of Fools in New York and treated like fools in Quebec Back home Beginning of Life Game and other formats Out of debt but no recognition (Re)Teaching Theatresports Conflict and closure - Beyond and within; Transitions The Loose Moose today 6 What now? What comes next? What classrooms still remain? Johnstone - The reluctant guru Johnstone's international workshops - Ideal for who? What may (or may not) happen in a Johnstone workshop Improbable's Life Game and Rebecca Northan's Blind Date Impro hot on stages and in classrooms of Latin America Impro beyond the theatre classroom What comes next? What classrooms still remain? Bibliography Index

Promotional Information

The first critical biography of theatre practitioner Keith Johnstone, who invented the famous Impro system of improvisation of training actors in order to inject creativity and spontaneity into their performances.

About the Author

Theresa Robbins Dudeck, Ph.D., is an experienced teacher/practitioner of Keith Johnstone's Impro System and of acting, voice, and applied theatre techniques. She directs, teaches, and performs in both professional and academic settings. As Johnstone's Literary Executor, she continues to organize, document, and preserve his archive for future scholarship. Theresa lives in Los Angeles.


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 *
Keith Johnstone has unlocked the potential for human creativity more than anyone else that I've encountered. And his ideas are still a radical challenge to what it means to educate or be educated. So it's great to finally have a book that lays out Keith's ideas and puts them in the context of his life and times. Essential reading for artists, teachers or anyone who wants to be more fully alive. * Mark Ravenhill, Playwright *
Chronicling the mind and works of one of the great teachers of our age is no small task. Prof. Dudeck has given us a window into the world of Keith Johnstone's life and pedagogy. Attending Keith's workshops opened new vistas in social psychology for me decades ago . . . and his original views on status have become foundational ideas in the social sciences. I rejoice that readers of all ages can now stand in his classroom. * Philip Zimbardo, Ph.D., professor emeritus of psychology, Stanford University *
Keith Johnstone is so off-the-charts original and creative it's hard to express. He taught me more about secret human behaviors, status transactions, and how to employ them in my work than any other person in my life, with startling results. This book is a noteworthy contribution to the knowledge of this rare and wonderful man and is to be snatched up and digested immediately! * Peter Coyote, Actor/Writer *
Whether it's devising with Improbable, improvising with the Comedy Store Players, or directing at the Metropolitan Opera, every aspect of my work is profoundly influenced by Keith Johnstone's teaching. In this book, Dudeck offers a frank, inspiring account of Keith's path, articulates the deeply held passions at the centre of his methodology, and situates Keith and his work in its proper place: at the heart and creative wellspring of modern theatre. * Phelim McDermott, Director/Actor/Writer *

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