By Danielle Cole
In The Dandies’ Harry Potter improv shows, we make up a lot of spells. Want to make up spells of your own? We’re here to help! We’ll run through how to make up spells on the fly, like we do in improv, and when you have more time.
How to make up spells for Harry Potter improv
1. Identify a need
Before casting a spell, you have to figure out what issue or need you have. This could be something as big as having to escape a life or death situation or needing to find a piece of parchment. Not sure what need you have? Don’t worry about a spell right now! Wait until a need appears, then continue on with this process.
2. Figure out what you want your spell to do
Now that you have your need, you want to think about how you want to solve it. For example, with Harry Potter improv, a character might find themselves captured by He Who Should Not Be Smelled. The need might be “to escape”, but how do you want to do that? Do you want to free yourself from restraints and face off with He Who Should Not Be Smelled? Do you want to teleport home and hide in the cupboard under the stairs? Pick the precise action you are looking for.
3. Think of a synonym
Take your want and think of a synonym, especially if it’s a common word. So if you want to turn your fear into something silly, you might think of “ridiculous”. All this thinking is happening in an instant; so, if you can’t think of anything, just go with the common word that’s at the top of your mind.
4. Give it some flare as you cast the spell
Harry Potter spells are based in Latin and Greek. Because of that, they often end with common Latin sounds, such as “io” – as in “reducio” – or “ium” – as in “aparecium”. As you say the spell, give the word or phrase some old-fashioned, Latin verbiage. And with that, the spell is cast!
How Harry Potter improv performers would create spells if they had more time
1. Identify a need and figure out what you want your spell to do
Like with the spells you cast on the spot, you still need to start by identifying the need and how you want to solve it. Get this planned out before you start researching for your spell.
2. Look up Greek and Latin terms
Since the Harry Potter spells are based in Latin – and some Greek, you’ll need to do a bit of research. Start with looking through a list of synonyms for the word for how you want to solve your need. Once you have the synonyms, search the Latin terms for the words. Pick the Latin term that feels best to you.
3. Piece your spell together
If you have a complex solution, you may need to combine a few terms together. For instance, if you want the sun to rise early, you might look up the Latin terms for “short” and “night” or “early”, “rise”, and “sun”. Once you have all your terms, you’ll need to piece them together into a cohesive term or phrase. Remember that you want to have something that sounds good to you and that you find fun to say.
4. Cast the spell!
Now bring your Harry Potter improv flash and cast your spell! If you want the full effect, tell others about the spell before you cast it so they know how to react.
Want to have more Harry Potter fun and see some spells be made up on the spot? You can catch The Dandies’ Harry Potter improv show, Hogwarts Follies at FanExpo Canada August 24th at 5:30 PM!