Keith Johnstone, a pioneer in improvisation who trained a generation of actors and comedians in impromptu performance and creativity, on and off stage, has died. He was 90.
Johnstone passed away at Rockyview Hospital in Calgary on Saturday, according to his personal website, with no cause of death specified. The creator of Theatresports and co-founder of The Loose Moose Theatre Company was born in Devon, England on Feb. 21, 1933.
Johnstone trained at the Royal Court Theatre in London and was a teacher at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. The Royal Court Theatre commissioned a stage play from Johnstone in 1956 and he remained a part of that prestigious live stage troupe over the next decade.
Summing up his philosophy, the key to improvisation is not to be prepared, Johnstone told a TEDx event in Calgary in 2016. “Improvisation is high risk. People think it’s like show business. It’s much more like sport,” he said, before adding the best performance calls for reaching for the obvious, not the clever. “The clever is an imitation of somebody else, really,” Johnstone added.
Keith Johnstone, Improv Trailblazer, Dies at 90
The creator of Theatresports trained and inspired a generation of actors, screenwriters and comics in improvisation and in-the-moment creativity, including ‘Better Call Saul’ star Bob Odenkirk.
Highly recommend Johnstone’s book – Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre