Improv Tip; Breath Is Like Gasoline To The Fire Of Your Emotions

The word INSPIRE means "to fill someone with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative." It also means, "to breathe in (air); to inhale." Breathing & inspiration are connected by more than just etymology. One flows from the other.

Breathing is the start, middle and ending of every scene and good actors connect their thoughts & feelings to their words and actions through their breath.

This blog comes from having been fortunate enough to work with the fantastic Carol Fox Prescott. Before I go any further, the reason this improv tip is INSPIRED by Carol Fox Prescott, as opposed to a QUOTE by Carol Fox Prescott is that I'm not 100% sure that Carol Fox Prescott actually said these words in this way.

Maybe... maybe not. That's memory for ya.

What I'm writing is what I took away from her workshops & books as I remember them from... more than a few years ago. It's my skewed memory of what Carol said. So...


You really should be getting this from Carol herself. You can buy her book...

Breathing, Awareness And Joy

by Carol Fox Prescott

Here's the link...


Read her book and THEN take a class with Carol...

On The Breath for Actors

Welcoming Those With All levels of Experience and Training

Including sessions by Skype!

Go study with Carol Fox Prescott right NOW!

Here's the link...


If you are reading this I have to imagine that you've already read Carol's book, you did a Skype session and then you went in person and took her workshop. It's several weeks later and you think, "oh yeah... I wonder what that improv guy was going to say about what he learned from Carol."

So here it is...

As an improvisational actor, your emotions are the medium through which you create your art. Painters have paint. Actors have actions; driven by emotions and powered by breath.


Your scene is like a car. In this car your emotions are like the combustion inside the engine and your breath is like the gasoline that gets injected into it. Breath is like gasoline to the fire of your emotions.

If you want that car to really take off you don't just twist the steering wheel in different directions, hoping to find a direction that takes you down a hill. You stay on the road you're on. You steer straight ahead and you stomp on the gas pedal.

Now, if you're in an improvised scene and you want it to really take off, don't try to introduce new "exciting" elements. Stay in the scene you're in. Focus straight ahead on your partner and breathe!

Let your breath be your gas pedal.

So, here's your checklist for the next you’re improvising...

  • Connect with your breath before you even walk on stage. Tell yourself, "I want to breathe deeply... not gulp air." This will calm you down and keep you centered.

  • Trust the scene you are in and your scene partner. It's a good scene and you have a good partner. All it needs is a little gas... and that's breath.

  • Experiment with your gas pedal. Give it gas to get it going, but also take your foot off the pedal and slow it down sometimes by breathing more gently, deeply and slowly. It will give your scenes dynamic emotional range.

  • Be aware of when you are holding your breath. That might be an indicator that you're about to "bail" on the scene.

  • Don't "bail" on the scene. Don't abandon your partner. Stay in the scene by connecting to your breath.

  • Go to




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