List of improvisational theatre companies

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An improvisational comedy group performing onstage.

Improvisational theatre companies, also known as improv troupes or improv groups, are the primary practitioners of improvisational theater. Modern companies exist around the world and at a range of skill levels. Most groups make little or no money, while a few, well-established groups are profitable.

Although improvisational theater has existed in some form or another since the 16th century,[1] modern improv began with the teachings of Viola Spolin in Chicago, Illinois, USA and Keith Johnstone during the 1940-50s in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.[2][3] Spolin's teachings led to the creation of The Compass Players, the first modern improvisational theater company, in 1955. The presence of The Compass Players, The Second City, and ImprovOlympic in Chicago created a strength in the form within the city that continues to this day.[4] New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Toronto are other major hubs of improvisational theater in the North America.

Many companies host improvisational theatre festivals or give improvisational theatre classes. Professional groups often perform a regular stage show acted by the most senior members. Along with this, they host "house" improv teams made up of improv students or graduates from their classes. In the past decade, professional improvisational theater groups have gradually started working more with corporate clients, using improvisational games to improve productivity and communication in the workplace.

Major Professional companies have branches in more than one city, have touring groups, and/or host large-scale improvisational comedy schools. Professional troupes are those not affiliated with a university or secondary school. Collegiate groups are those associated with a post-secondary educational institution. If a company performs more than one type of improvisational comedy, they are defined as using Multiple improvisational comedy types. If it is unclear what particular kind of improvisational comedy a group performs, they are defined as Improvisational. Those marked Semi-improvisational generally perform shows that are partially improvised and partially scripted.

The following is a list of noteworthy improvisational theatre companies[nb 1] from around the world.

Improvisational theatre companies in Canada[edit]

Name Group Level Improv Type Location Date Established Reference
The Bad Dog Theatre Company Professional Multiple Toronto, Ontario 2003 [5]
Die-Nasty Professional Television Edmonton, Alberta 1991 [6]
Ligue nationale d'improvisation Professional Improvisational Quebec 1977
Loose Moose Theatre Major Professional Theatresports Calgary, Alberta 1977 [7]
Montreal Improv Theatre Professional Improvisational Montreal, Quebec 2007 [8]
Projectproject Professional Improvisational Toronto, Ontario 2007 [9]
Rapid Fire Theatre Professional Theatresports Edmonton, Alberta 1982
Staircase Improv Professional Improvisational Hamilton, Ontario 1997 [10]
Theatre on the Edge Professional Improvisational Waterloo, Ontario 1981 [11]
Vancouver Theatresports League Professional Theatresports Vancouver 1980

Improvisational theatre companies in the United States[edit]

Name Group Level Improv Type Location Date Established Reference
ACME Comedy Theatre Professional Theatresports Los Angeles, California 1989 [12]
Awkward Compliment Professional Improvisational Somerville, Massachusetts 2010

[13]

The Annoyance Theatre Professional Improvisational Chicago, Illinois 1987
Arcade Comedy Theater Professional Multiple Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 2013 [14]
Atlas Improv Co. Professional Multiple Madison, Wisconsin 2004 [15]
BATS Improv Major Professional Theatresports San Francisco, California 1986
The Bent Theatre Professional Multiple Charlottesville, Virginia 2004 [16]
Black Sheep Improv Collegiate Long-Form Athens, Ohio 2007 [17]
Bovine Metropolis Theater Professional Multiple Denver, Colorado 1998 [18]
The Brave New Workshop Comedy Theatre Professional Multiple Minneapolis, Minnesota 1958 [19]
Charm City Comedy Project Professional Multiple Baltimore, Maryland 2014 [20]
CHiPs Improv Collegiate Multiple Chapel Hill, North Carolina 1995
Coalition Theater Professional Multiple Richmond, Virginia 2009 [21]
Columbus Unscripted Professional Improvisational Columbus, Ohio 2006 [22]
Commedus Interruptus Collegiate Multiple Los Angeles, California 1989 [23]
ComedySportz Major Professional Shortform Milwaukee, Wisconsin 1984 [24]
Compass Players Professional Cabaret Chicago, Illinois 1955* [25]
Dad's Garage Theatre Company Professional Multiple Atlanta, Georgia 1995 [26]
The Denials The Overtime Theater Short-form San Antonio, Texas 2009 [27]
The Diggers Professional Guerrilla San Francisco, California 1966* [28]
Endgames Improv Professional Long-Form San Francisco, California 2010 [29]
Erasable Inc. Collegiate Improvisational College Park, Maryland 1986 [30]
Face Off Unlimited Professional Multiple New York City, New York 2003 [31]
False Profits Comedy Collegiate Multiple Chapel Hill, North Carolina 2013 [32]
The Focus Group Professional Long-form Bangor, Maine 2009
Freudian Slip Collegiate Improvisational College Station, TX 1994
Friday Night Improvs Collegiate Improv Jam Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 1989
Groundlings Major Professional Semi-improvisational Los Angeles, California 1974
HUGE Theater Professional Long-form Minneapolis, Minnesota 2005 [33]
The Immediate Gratification Players Collegiate Long-form Cambridge, Massachusetts 1986 [34]
ImprovOlympic Major Professional the Harold Chicago, Illinois 1980 [35]
Improv Asylum Major Professional Semi-improvisational Boston, Massachusetts 1998 [36]
ImprovBoston Major Professional Multiple Cambridge, Massachusetts 1982 [37]
Improv Everywhere Professional Guerrilla New York City, New York 2001 [38]
Improv Hawaii Professional Multiple Honolulu, Hawaii 2012 [39]
Improvhi Professional Multiple Honolulu, Hawaii 2012 [40]
Improv Institute Professional Improvisational Chicago, Illinois 1983*
In Between The Lines Comedy Improv Troupe Collegiate Shortform Rochester, New York 1999 [41]
Just Add Water Collegiate Improvisational New Haven, Connecticut 1986 [42]
Just The Funny Professional Multiple Miami, Florida 1999 [43]
Laughing Matters Professional Shortform Atlanta, Georgia 1985 [44]
Leela Professional Multiple San Francisco, California 2003 [45]
The Lobby Professional Shortform Fullerton, California 2005 [46]
Madcap Theater Professional Shortform Westminster, Colorado 2006 [47]
Magnet Theater Major Professional Long-Form New York City, New York 2005 [48]
Monkey Business Institute Professional Shortform Madison, Wisconsin 2004 [49]
My Mother's Fleabag Collegiate Short-form Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts 1980 [50]
The N Crowd Professional Shortform Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 2005 [51]
The National Comedy Theatre Major Professional Shortform San Diego, California [52]
On Thin Ice Collegiate Shortform Cambridge, Massachusetts 1984 [53]
Peoples Improv Theater Major Professional Multiple New York City, New York 2002 [54]
Philly Improv Theater (PHIT) Major Professional Multiple Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 2005 [55]
The Playground Professional Long-form Chicago, Illinois 1997
The Purple Crayon of Yale Collegiate Long-form New Haven, Connecticut 1985 [56]
SAK Comedy Lab Professional Multiple Orlando, Florida 1991 [57]
The San Francisco Improv Alliance Professional Multiple San Francisco, California 2005
The San Francisco Improv Co-Operative Professional Multiple San Francisco, California 2000
The Second City Major Professional Semi-improvisational Chicago, Illinois 1959 [58][59]
Second Nature Improv Collegiate Long-form Los Angeles, California 2002
Sick Puppies Comedy Professional Multiple Boca Raton, Florida 2012 [60]
Silverbacks Improv Theatre Professional Multiple Lafayette, Louisiana 2012 [61]
Starla and Sons Collegiate Longform Providence, Rhode Island 2006 [62]
Steel City Improv Theater Professional Longform Pittsburgh, PA 2010 [63]
Syracuse Improv Collective Professional Multiple Syracuse, New York 2011 [64][65]
Theatre Strike Force Collegiate Multiple Gainesville, Florida 1989 [66]
The National Comedy Theatre Professional Multiple Phoenix, Arizona 2007 [67]
Unexpected Company Professional Long-form Warwick, Rhode Island 2003 [68]
Unexpected Productions Professional Theatresports Seattle, Washington 1983 [69]
The Un-Scripted Theater Company Professional Multiple San Francisco, California 2002
Upright Citizens Brigade Major Professional Multiple New York City, New York 1999
Washington Improv Theater Major Professional Long-form Washington, DC 1995 [70]
Whole World Theatre Professional Shortform Atlanta, Georgia 1994 [71]
Wing-It Productions Professional Multiple Seattle, Washington 1992 [72]
The Yale Ex!t Players Collegiate Short-form New Haven, Connecticut 1984 [73]
WHIP Comedy Improv Collegiate Multiple Westfield, Massachusetts 2012 [74]

*This group is no longer performing.

Improvisational theatre companies in the United Kingdom[edit]

Name Group Level Improv Type Location Date Established Reference
The Comedy Store Players Professional Improvisational London, England 1985
Shoot From The Hip! Professional Multiple London, England 2011 [75]
Impro FX Professional Multiple Edinburgh, Scotland 2013 [76]
Improverts Collegiate Theatresports Edinburgh, Scotland 1989
The Oxford Imps Semi-Professional Improvisational Oxford, England 2003 [77]
Showstopper! Professional Musical Theatre London, England 2001 [78]
The Suggestibles Professional Improvisational Newcastle upon Tyne, England 2001 [79]
The Spontaneity Shop Professional Multiple London, England 1996
The Antics Collegiate Shortform Sheffield, England 2008 [80]
The Maydays Professional Longform Brighton, England 2003 [81]
To Be Continued... Professional Multiple Edinburgh, Scotland 2009 [82]

Improvisational theatre companies in Australia[edit]

Name Group Level Improv Type Location Date Established Reference
The Sherbet Underground Improv Theatre Amateur Longform Brisbane, Queensland 2009 [83]
ImproMafia Amateur Multiple Brisbane, Queensland 2004 [84]
Improvactually Amateur Longform Sydney, New South Wales 2009 [85]
Ivan Chew - Improv Your Life Professional Multiple Sydney, New South Wales 2011 [86][87][88][89][90]

Improvisational theatre companies in other countries[edit]

Name Group Level Improv Type Location Date Established Reference
Boom Chicago Professional Multiple Amsterdam, Netherlands 1993 [91]
Impromptu Professional Long-form Amsterdam, Netherlands 2002 [92]
IGLU Theatre Professional Multiple Ljubljana, Slovenia 2013 [93]
Narobov Professional Theatresports Ljubljana, Slovenia 2004
Tokyo Comedy Store Professional Multiple Tokyo, Japan 1994 [94]
ImproBeirut Professional Multiple Beirut, Lebanon 2008 [95]
Improvtheater - Israel Professional Longform Tel-Aviv, Israel 2009 [96]
Impro Brasil Professional Shortform Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 2013 [97]
Théâtre de l'Oignon Professional Multiple Strasbourg, France 2003 [98]
Instantâneos Professional Multiple Lisboa, Portugal 2011 [99]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ A company is presumed noteworthy if it has received significant coverage in reliable sources that are independent of the company and satisfies the inclusion criteria for a stand-alone article.

External links[edit]

References[edit]

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  3. ^ Reddick, Grant. "Keith Johnstone," Theatre 100. Calgary: Alberta Playwrights Network, 2006
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