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
Die-Nasty Professional Television Edmonton, Alberta 1991 [5][6]
Ligue nationale d'improvisation Professional Improvisational Quebec 1977
Loose Moose Theatre Professional Theatresports Calgary, Alberta 1977 [7]
Rapid Fire Theatre Professional Theatresports Edmonton, Alberta 1982
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 [8]
The Annoyance Theatre Professional Improvisational Chicago, Illinois 1987
BATS Improv Major Professional Theatresports, Long-form, Musicals San Francisco, California 1986
The Bent Theatre Professional Multiple Charlottesville, Virginia 2004 [9]
Blackout Improv Professional - Minneapolis, Minnesota 2015 [10][11]
Bovine Metropolis Theater Professional Multiple Denver, Colorado 1998 [12]
The Brave New Workshop Comedy Theatre Professional Multiple Minneapolis, Minnesota 1958 [13]
Chicago City Limits Major Professional Shortform New York City, New York 1977 [14][15]
Commedus Interruptus Collegiate Multiple Los Angeles, California 1989 [16]
ComedySportz Major Professional Shortform Milwaukee, Wisconsin 1984 [17]
Compass Players Professional Cabaret Chicago, Illinois 1955* [18]
Dad's Garage Theatre Company Professional Multiple Atlanta, Georgia 1995 [19]
The Diggers Professional Guerrilla San Francisco, California 1966* [20]
Erasable Inc. Collegiate Improvisational College Park, Maryland 1986 [21]
Face Off Unlimited Professional Multiple New York City, New York 2003 [22]
The Focus Group Professional Long-form Bangor, Maine 2009
Friday Night Improvs Collegiate Improv Jam Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 1989
The Groundlings Major Professional Semi-improvisational Los Angeles, California 1974
HUGE Theater Professional Long-form Minneapolis, Minnesota 2005 [23]
The Immediate Gratification Players Collegiate Long-form Cambridge, Massachusetts 1986 [24]
ImprovOlympic Major Professional the Harold Chicago, Illinois 1980 [25]
Improv Asylum Major Professional Semi-improvisational Boston, Massachusetts 1998 [26]
ImprovBoston Major Professional Multiple Cambridge, Massachusetts 1982 [27]
Improv Everywhere Professional Guerrilla New York City, New York 2001 [28]
Improv for the People Professional Multiple Los Angeles, California 2009
Improv Institute Professional Improvisational Chicago, Illinois 1983*
Jet City Improv Professional Multiple Seattle, Washington 1992 [29]
Just Add Water Collegiate Improvisational New Haven, Connecticut 1986 [30]
Laughing Matters Professional Shortform Atlanta, Georgia 1985 [31]
The Lobby Professional Shortform Fullerton, California 2005 [32]
Madcap Theater Professional Shortform Westminster, Colorado 2006 [33]
Magnet Theater Major Professional Long-Form New York City, New York 2005 [34]
The N Crowd Professional Shortform Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 2005 [35]
The National Comedy Theatre Major Professional Shortform San Diego, California [36]
On Thin Ice Collegiate Shortform Cambridge, Massachusetts 1984 [37]
Peoples Improv Theater Major Professional Multiple New York City, New York 2002 [38]
Philly Improv Theater (PHIT) Major Professional Multiple Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 2005 [39]
The Playground Professional Long-form Chicago, Illinois 1997
Providence Improv Guild Professional Multiple Providence, Rhode Island 2013 [40]
The Purple Crayon of Yale Collegiate Long-form New Haven, Connecticut 1985 [41]
The Revival Professional Multiple Chicago, Illinois 2015
SAK Comedy Lab Major Professional Multiple Orlando, Florida 1991 [42]
The San Francisco Improv Alliance Professional Multiple San Francisco, California 2005
The Second City Major Professional Semi-improvisational Chicago, Illinois 1959 [43][44]
Second Nature Improv Collegiate Long-form Los Angeles, California 2002
Starla and Sons Collegiate Longform Providence, Rhode Island 2006 [45]
Theatre Strike Force Collegiate Multiple Gainesville, Florida 1989 [46]
The National Comedy Theatre Professional Multiple Phoenix, Arizona 2007 [47]
Unexpected Company Professional Long-form Warwick, Rhode Island 2003 [48]
Unexpected Productions Professional Theatresports Seattle, Washington 1983 [49]
Under the Gun Theater Professional Multiple Chicago, Illinois 2014 [50]
The Un-Scripted Theater Company Professional Multiple San Francisco, California 2002
Upright Citizens Brigade Major Professional Multiple New York City, New York 1999
Whole World Theatre Professional Shortform Atlanta, Georgia 1994 [51]
Wing-It Productions Professional Multiple Seattle, Washington 1992 [29]
The Yale Ex!t Players Collegiate Short-form New Haven, Connecticut 1984 [52]

*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
Improverts Collegiate Theatresports Edinburgh, Scotland 1989
The Oxford Imps Semi-Professional Improvisational Oxford, England 2003 [53]
Showstoppers Professional Musical Theatre London, England 2008 [54]
The Suggestibles Professional Improvisational Newcastle upon Tyne, England 2001 [55]
The Spontaneity Shop Professional Multiple London, England 1996
The Antics Collegiate Shortform Sheffield, England 2008 [56]
The Maydays Professional Longform Brighton, England 2003 [57]
Mischief Theatre Professional Multiple London, England 2008

Improvisational theatre companies in other countries[edit]

Name Group Level Improv Type Location Date Established Reference
Yours Truly Theatre Professional Multiple Bangalore, India 2003 [30]
The Court Jesters Professional Multiple Christchurch, New Zealand 1989 [58]
Boom Chicago Professional Multiple Amsterdam, Netherlands 1993 [59]
IGLU Theatre Professional Multiple Ljubljana, Slovenia 2013 [60]
Narobov Professional Theatresports Ljubljana, Slovenia 2004
Tokyo Comedy Store Professional Multiple Tokyo, Japan 1994 [61]
Seoul City Improv Professional Multiple Seoul, South Korea 2007 [62] [63]

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]

  1. ^ Mel Gordon, Lazzi: The Comic Routines of the Commedia dell'Arte 2001, ISBN 978-0-933826-69-4
  2. ^ Improvisation for the Theater ISBN 0-8101-4008-X (1963)
  3. ^ Reddick, Grant. "Keith Johnstone," Theatre 100. Calgary: Alberta Playwrights Network, 2006
  4. ^ Bernstein, David (September 3, 2005). "In Chicago, Honoring Athletes of Improv". The New York Times. Retrieved January 5, 2009.
  5. ^ Irvine, Lindesay (December 22, 2005). "Say yes to improv", Guardian Unlimited, Guardian Unlimited. Retrieved January 6, 2008.
  6. ^ "Improv Embassy studio aims to be Ottawa's comedic hub". Metro Ottawa. Retrieved August 4, 2016.
  7. ^ Calgary Plus. "Loose Moose Theatre Company". Archived from the original on October 5, 2006. Retrieved October 18, 2008.
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  10. ^ Hewitt, Chris (July 28, 2016). "Blackout Improv strives to shed comedic light on what's not so funny". St. Paul Pioneer Press. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  11. ^ Combs, Marianne (September 20, 2017). "At Blackout Improv, comedy wrestles with tragedy". Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
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  15. ^ "OB's Chicago City Limits Celebrates Two Decades With New Lineup, Opening June 8". Playbill. Thu Jun 08 02:00:00 EDT 2000. Retrieved 2019-02-13. Check date values in: |date= (help)
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  19. ^ [6].
  20. ^ "Overview: who were (are) the Diggers?". The Digger Archives. [7]. Retrieved June 17, 2007.
  21. ^ Woodhouse, Kellie (September 19, 2008). "Do Terrapins have a funny bone?" Archived 2008-09-21 at the Wayback Machine. The Diamondback. Retrieved January 5, 2009.
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  28. ^ Gallagher, Brian Thomas. "Prank You Kindly". New York. Retrieved January 5, 2009.
  29. ^ a b [13].
  30. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-03-20. Retrieved 2011-01-21.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link).
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  33. ^ [16].
  34. ^ [17].
  35. ^ Walsh, Bruce (July 25, 2007). "The N Crowd: They're Making Philly Funny" (PDF). Philadelphia Metro. Retrieved July 31, 2007.
  36. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-02-20. Retrieved 2009-01-06.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link).
  37. ^ "Improv Comedy Groups Play for Laughs". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved January 5, 2008.
  38. ^ [18].
  39. ^ McCormack, Max (April 7, 2008). "Philly Improv an Out of Control 'Comedy Vortex'". The Temple News. Retrieved December 26, 2008.
  40. ^ "P.I.G. Providence Improv Guild". Improvpig.com. Retrieved 2017-01-10.
  41. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-06-11. Retrieved 2009-06-12.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link).
  42. ^ [19].
  43. ^ Christiansen, Richard (2004). Grossman, James R., Keating, Ann Durkin, and Reiff, Janice L.:"Second City Theatre". The Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago 744. Chicago Historical Society. Retrieved March 7, 2008.
  44. ^ Robertson, Campbell (June 4, 2008). "Paul Sills, a Guru of Improv Theater, Dies at 80". The New York Times. Retrieved January 5, 2008.
  45. ^ "Improv: Making It Up for Laughs". The Providence Journal.
  46. ^ [20]
  47. ^ [21]
  48. ^ "Best Comedy Troupe". Rhode Island Monthly. August 2004. Retrieved January 5, 2008.
  49. ^ Burton, Lynsi (June 12, 2008). "Unexpected Productions Celebrates 25 Years". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved January 5, 2008.
  50. ^ Wachtler, Mark (September 29, 2014). "Under The Gun Theater Opening in Wrigleyville" Archived 2014-10-11 at the Wayback Machine. Illinois Herald. Retrieved January 14, 2015.
  51. ^ [22].
  52. ^ [23].
  53. ^ "The Oxford Imps". BBC. June 2005. Retrieved January 5, 2009.
  54. ^ "The Showstoppers – The award-winning creators of improvised musicals, comedy and drama". Showstopperthemusical.com. Retrieved 2017-01-10.
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  56. ^ [25].
  57. ^ [26].
  58. ^ [27].
  59. ^ van Gelder, Henk (May 6, 2008). "NRC Review: Best Boom Show in 15 Years". NRC Next.
  60. ^ IGLU: Čar improvizacije sta spontanost in iskrenost, Planet Siol.net, November 19, 2013.
  61. ^ [28].
  62. ^ [29].
  63. ^ Kerry, Paul (May 29, 2018). http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20180529000851 "SCI offers improv course to help you think on your feet"] The Korea Herald. Retrieved March 11, 2019.