Keith Johnstone, Improvisational Theatre, 14 Rules and ImproRhetoric™

Improv wisdom
Keith Johnstone

Keith Johnstone and the improvisational theater


Keith Johnstone is considered to be the founder of modern improvisation theater, and thus provided me with numerous ideas for the development of improRhetorics™. Read the 14 “Rules” of improvisation theater. Models and wisdom for coaching and presentation skills. I do not only recommend the books and ideas of Keith Johnstone to participants in my workshops.

Keith Johnstone, founder of improvisation theatre


Keith Johnstone (* 1933) is regarded as the founder of modern improvisational theater. From 1956 to 1966 he worked at the Royal Court Theatre in London as a dramaturge and director and taught at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Since 1971 he has passed on his skills and knowledge to the University of Calgary, Canada, where he founded The Loose Moose Theatre Company. In Europe, Johnstone has taught at various drama schools and universities and continues to influence improvisational theater to this day. I owe him many very useful insights, which today flow into presentation skills training and ImproRhetoric™ in particular.

14 “Rules” of improvisational theater


You can also benefit from the suggestions of improvisation theater in many other areas.


Wisdom for improvisational actors:


1. Be courageous


Be brave and dare.




2. Accept, yes, and …


Take the offer and make the most of it.



3. Play along


Acting instead of just watching.




4. Assert




5. Demonstrate commitment




6. Listen attentively




7. Be awake, present and flexible


Humans have many incredible talents, but multitasking isn’t one of them. If we are preoccupied with something else, we’re missing the now. We are best when we work in the now. It is important to pay attention to and to focus eon the present.




8. Support the partners and make them look good.


Take care of each others. Support each other. Start with that.




9. Support the scene




10. Observe the environment attentively




11. Practice, practice, practice




12. Promote what would please you as a spectator.




13. Trust


Learn to trust yourself and your inspirations.




14. Celebrating slips and moving on


Make mistakes, please. Whether in improvisational theater or life, you can only succeed if you take action. When you attempt something and don’t succeed, it’s not that you failed, but that you’ve learned. And when you try again, you’ll have a better chance of succeeding. Failure is not even trying.



Is that enough theory? You can find out more about the practical use of ancient rhetoric in Presentations Skills Training III, without the need for ancient Greek or Latin.

Just ask me personally


Please post any questions that may be of interest to other readers in the comments. Looking for professional help?

If you are interested in coaching, training or consulting, if you have organizational questions, or if you want to make an appointment, you can reach me best via this contact form (you can choose whether you want to enter your personal data) or via e-mail ( You can also reach me by phone at +49(0)30 864 213 68 or by cell phone at +49(0)1577 704 53 56 from Monday to Thursday from 9:00 to 18:00. Most of the time I am in meetings, so please leave a message with your phone number in Germany. Please remember to be very specific about the reason for your call. I will get back to you as soon as possible. The privacy policy can be found here.

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The secret of improv

This article is a short excerpt from the more comprehensive course materials my clients receive in a group or individual training or coaching.

Published: March 6, 2015
Author: Karsten Noack
Revision: August 20th, 2023
Translation: ./.
German version:

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