When you type the word improv in any application with spell check you'll see the dotted red line under it. Improv is not a recognized word.
That's changing thanks in part to an unlikely source: The Military in Iraq.
But... what are they doing to this word?
The first use of improv came soon after the military occupied Iraq with I-E-D.. IED stands for Improvised Explosive Device.
In this use the word is 'improvised' and it means non-standard in construction and deployment. It refers to a bomb that is cobbled together from available parts.
Improvised means to create in a non-standard way, not by-the-book or off-the-normal-path.
The second use of improv came in August when The Washington Post reported that CIA agents were poorly supervised which lead to "unauthorized, improvised, inhumane and undocumented" interrogation techniques.
In this use the word is also 'improvised' and it means that they were going using techniques that were not included in the approved operating procedure.
The media use of this word has brought Improvisation into our lives through front page newspaper stories and main stream television coverage. That's good for those of us doing improv theater. But is this a blessing or does it add to the confusion about non-scripted theater?
For these stories the word improved means working outside the guidelines - off the page.
How are these uses like improvisational theater?
- They are without a script. (normal approach)
- They achieve the intended goals.
- They are both high risk.
- Can you add more?
[Part 2: Another Military Improviser, "Sir, yes sir!"]