Focus on Reflection vs. Content
Mirror Speech gives a good example of true improvisation. It is not turn-taking or mimicking. Rather it allows both players to explore ideas and let the story (such as it is) go where it will. It will often become a flight of fanciful ideas. Listen to the explanation Viola Spolin makes after the exercise.
Things to Help Mirror Speech
- Avoid lists – Old information, mentally treading water, regurgitating what one already knows, keeping the conversation ‘earth-bound’ and makes flights of fancy harder.
- Avoid questions – other than rhetorical questions it is not a dialogue but a reflection
- Avoid using the word “I” – Again, Old information. It makes for separate opinions (subjectivity) and keeps the players from merging into one voice. It will also keep the players ‘earthbound’.
Just be careful not to use any advanced exercises until the group is ready for them. Be certain that Orientation and Where exercises are given students in the beginning work, however. This is as true for the professional company as it is for the lay actor and newcomer to the theater.