Lawyers can learn a lot from improvisation – much more than just thinking fast on their feet, being in the moment, and being spontaneous. There are certain aspects of improvisation that are strikingly similar to trying a case. In both disciplines, the key concept is the creation of a new, temporary reality. In improvisation, the actors must draw the audience into sharing the constructed reality of the stage. Then, and only then, will the audience be able to “see” the objects and characters portrayed. That’s because in improvisation, props and costumes are prohibited.
In trial, the lawyer must draw the jury into sharing the re-constructed reality of past events – often times tragic events – such that they “see” what happened, even though they weren’t present to witness the original events. Improvisation teachers have developed principles to guide performers in creating and maintaining a constructed reality in which the audience participates. And these principles are as important to trial lawyers as the scientific method is to scientists.