About the CBI Workshops



A five day intensive workshop for actors, directors, filmmakers and writers.

The workshop explores the Character-based Improvisation Process, a means of creating detailed, complex characters, whether it’s for conventional scripted material, ensemble scenes or improvised dramas – the process can be used to create entire films as well.  (It’s how British director Mike Leigh creates his films.)

The CBI process allows actors and filmmakers greater creative freedom; it empowers and liberates: actors achieve performances that are spontaneous, immediate and truthful; directors are able to maintain a creative overview and to build on what the actor does.

Both actors and filmmakers benefit from the creative partnership formed through CBI Process.

The Character-based Improvisation (CBI) Process begins with the director working directly with the actor, one-on-one, to create a character.

As the name implies, improvisations are at the heart of the process.

These are based on reality and observation, and investigate the character’s emotional and psychological condition in a series of evolving situations

There is no script, and (seemingly) no emphasis on provoking drama. The focus is on constructing a whole character, examining the many things that make someone who they are.

The focus is on constructing a whole character, examining the many things that make someone who they are.

Discussions with the director, research by the actor and a great many improvisations enable both to construct not merely a detailed character, but a person who is clearly defined within a tangible and realistic ‘world’.

In addition, because of the way the improvisations are structured, the actor’s understanding of the character – and the character’s emotions – becomes really strong. All the while the process is drawing from ‘lived reality’ – life as it is observed to be.

All the while the process is drawing from ‘lived reality’ – life as it is observed to be.

Although there is no script and seemingly no emphasis on drama for its own sake, all the elements of future dramatic development are being sewn into the character’s very being.

For some of the time, each actor works separately with the director so that the integrity of their character is not affected by knowledge of other characters: not knowing who the other characters are, not seeing how they have been constructed, allows the actor in character to make that first contact with another character and respond spontaneously and accurately to them.

This keeping the characters separate (though not the actors!) becomes a form of ‘secrecy’ within the process – it’s a particularly powerful tool and a very effective acting


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By the end of the workshop participants should have greater confidence in their own skills – they will have discovered how good they can be!

They will also have a new perspective on character and character-building, and – through a complete understanding of the CBI Process – an alternative way of interpreting characters in any drama material.

For Directors:

For Directors, the benefits are found not only in the specific steps of the process but in a whole new foundation for director-actor communication.

The ongoing interaction between the two means the director has an unusual depth of knowledge of the actor and the character, has a means of incorporating the actor’s contribution to the drama and has the added benefit, through the many improvisations, of trialing dramatic solutions to narrative problems.

For Actors:

The workshop encourages actors to work towards drawn-from-life screen performances. Many of the exercises within the workshop are based

Many of the exercises within the workshop are based on ‘realistic transactions’, allowing actors to discover for themselves the scale and tone of their own acting.

They are able to experiment in a safe environment.

The scenarios they encounter through improvisations show how the unexpected is a creative tool, taking actors away from any predictability in their performance choices.

The great value of the process is that individual parts within it can be used in isolation by the actor – whether working on conventional scripted material, ensemble pieces or improvised dramas.

The tools actors acquire through the workshop will be of immediate practical use in their subsequent work.


Find Out More: Upcoming Workshops

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