Talk:Improvisational theatre

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Keith Johnstone[edit]

I take issue with this quote:

Keith Johnstone’s work at the Royal Court Theatre in the late 1950s is seen as the foundational framework for contemporary improvisational theatre today.

While this may be true in Great Britain or in Canada, where his influence is seen the most, it is not true in the United States. Viola Spolin was working with improvisation in the 1940s and 1050s, and her work predates his. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Gregchilders (talkcontribs) 18:55, 12 November 2011 (UTC)

"Long form" vs "Longform"[edit]

Google yields only 139 responses for "shortform improv" and 12,300 for "short form", and 47,000 for "Long Form" with only 12,000 for "longform." Since that is a reasonable number of hits, I think "longform" should be mentioned once, but the two word (not twoword) versions should be the standard for the article. BarkingDoc 21:58, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

Merge "Improvisational comedy"[edit]

There does not appear to be much different information in the seperate articles Improvisational comedy and Improvisational theatre. While these two are different in theory, they do not seem to be different in reality. Is there any reason the two articles should not be merged? BarkingDoc 22:24, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

Reply: The group called ComedySportz seems to focus mostly on the comic aspects of improv. While groups like Theatersports tend to focus on the scene work that includes the more narrative aspects of improv. To me there is a difference, however poorly these ideas are reflected in these pages. PlayfulRaven 23:35, 13 November 2006 (UTC)

There is very little difference. --Chris Griswold () 13:22, 8 January 2007 (UTC)

Improvisation can be many things outside comedy: therapeutic, tragic, politic etc... So we should keep the distinction.

merger stage 1 complete![edit]

I have made the first bold move to a merge between Improvisational Comedy and Improvisational Theatre. It is very rough, with some repeated information and a patchy layout. I agree that this article still needs some serious work. --User:Mcevoymp

Distinguish between forms of improvisation[edit]

Barking Dog is correct that this page lacks information that distinguishes it from comedic improvisation, but that is simply due to a lack of information. There are several branches that were glossed over, including "improv in rehearsal", "improv in political theatre", "improv in the avante garde" and "improv in dramaturgy".

This article needs a serious overhaul, looking at improvisation as a theatrical tradition, as opposed to a niche of simply "comedic improv, as seen on TV". Nanodummy 2:15, Oct. 3, 2006 (UTC)


Every improv venue has it's own set of penalties, the one I'm involved in has the "scum box" which is the same as your brown bag, and the "pink shoe" which used when a whole scene needs a scum box, or when a scene is going no where, it ends the scene. Either take this section off, or make one for every single venue in the world, your choice. Saksjn 20:19, 23 January 2007 (UTC)saksjnSaksjn 20:19, 23 January 2007 (UTC)

Remove it. This article has no references, and so much of it is "Hey, my group "Off the Top" does this! Come see us every Wednesday Night at 10 at the 12th St. Pub, in the back stairwell!" --Chris Griswold () 22:09, 23 January 2007 (UTC)


This "clap-in" biz needs to be cited. Because right now, it looks like original research. --Chris Griswold () 10:14, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

The Clap-In style of longform improv was created by Stan Wells during his tenure as director at The Groundlings theatre, possibly as far back as the 80s, though I'm not sure of this. You can find multiple references to it outside of his own theatre, The Empty Stage. See The Waterbrains comedy troupe, Westside Eclectic Comedy Theatre, The Transformers, etc. The Transformers alone have been around over 20 years using Clap-Ins with their own unique style of longform improv, probably deserving of its own page. Would a definition of the Clap-In form help? Or should it have its own page? It's seems a little skimpy for that. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:27, 14 December 2009 (UTC)

A mess!!![edit]

Okay, we all know that this article is a mess. I think the easiest way to clean it up is by starting over from a blank page, agree? For the sake of good improv. everywhere we need to clean this up and make a good, strong article. Saksjn 12:30, 25 April 2007 (UTC)

Saying No, negativeness, rejection, whatever it's called?[edit]

There should be a section I think on what was explained to me as essentially "saying No"... as in when improvising, the actors have to work together, and accept what someone else does, otherwise they ruin the entire scene.

Like if someone picks up an imaginary object as if it were 100 pounds, and hands it off, the person "saying No" acts like it's weightless and doesn't care what the other person has done. AndarielHalo (talk) 19:01, 5 July 2008 (UTC)

I think you mean blocking.-Dhodges (talk) 22:00, 5 July 2008 (UTC)

Actually, I think you are referring to the comedic rule of "Yes, and...", which means you can never say no to another actor's suggestion or definition or else you'll kill the scene. I think this is definitely worth mentioning in the article as in my experience with various actors and improv games it is the governing rule of improv. Blocking is what happens when you don't follow the rule of "Yes, and...", but is not the same thing. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:36, 2 September 2008 (UTC)

No, it's identical; just stated in a positive and negative form. DionysosProteus (talk) 02:20, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

Wikiproject Chicago?[edit]

I'm not sure if it really makes sense for this article to be part of wikiproject chicago. It seems much more appropriately placed in Wikiproject Comedy and Wikiproject Theater. Thoughts?SMSpivey (talk) 21:25, 4 January 2009 (UTC)

Corporate Improv[edit]

I just deleted a section on "Corporate Improv" because it made some broad claims with no references and because it included a link to a commercial venture. I do think a properly-cited section on this aspect of Improv would be appropriate, but this wasn't it. Jgm (talk) 18:36, 26 January 2009 (UTC)

US centric[edit]

Article seems skewed.


External links are mostly advertisements.

Improv in the Classroom[edit]

Per a request by User:Jwyllie, I am posting this section here for development and discussion.

Not surprisingly given it roots in the classrooms of Neva Boyd and Viola Spolin, improvisation is now one of the fundamental subjects in the theatrical curriculums of high schools, colleges and professional programs. Improvisation is taught as part of the drama curriculum and hundreds of educational institutions across the Western world. For example, iprovisation is also one of the key components in the School of Comedy, an accredited college program (and the first ever of it's type) at Humber College near Toronto.<ref></ref> Simarly, improvisation is a basic course in the drama program at New York's famed Julliard School.<ref></ref> The aforementioned programs are merely illustrative of the importance that improvisation plays in contemporary drama education.

VQuakr (talk) 02:30, 12 August 2011 (UTC)

Here it is with some revision, what are other editors' thoughts?

Not surprisingly given it roots in the classrooms of Neva Boyd and Viola Spolin, improvisation is now one of the fundamental subjects in the theatrical curriculums of high schools, colleges and professional programs. Improvisation is taught as part of the drama curriculum and hundreds of educational institutions across the Western world.Citation Humber College near Toronto initiated its School of Comedy (the first ever of its type)Citation with improvisation as one of its key components.

I removed the refs to the academic programs Julliard and Humber as they did not provide information that was likely to need to be verified. The "first ever of its type" claim is interesting and relevant but needs to be sourced. The earlier citation suggestion would be a good place to add a source for a broader discussion of improv in education. VQuakr (talk) 04:39, 13 August 2011 (UTC)

David Shepherd[edit]

This listing glosses over David Shepherd's contributions to improvisational theatre. Aside from creating Compass, the forerunner of Second City, David created (with Howard Jerome) the Improvisation Olympics (1972), one of the first competitive improv formats in North America. David's Improvisation Olympics led to the creation of the Canadian Improv Games (created by Howard Jerome and Willie Wyllie), a national program for high school students (now in its 34th year), and Improv Olympix in Chicago (1982), where David Shepherd's format "Time Dash" redefined the Harold.

There is no mention of the role of improvisation in the Educational Theatre movement (children's theatre, drama therapy, creative dramatics) or the increasing use of improvisation in the classroom (elementary to high school), which often leads to a theatrical performance. Well known practitioners in this field (Gavin Bolton, Robert Landy, Dorothy Heathcote, Roslyn Wilder)are not mentioned at all. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Migaluch (talkcontribs) 23:13, 12 August 2011 (UTC)

He is mentioned in multiple paragraphs throughout the article, which is already a remarkable amount of coverage for an article about such a broad topic. I would suggest refining the discussion of his role in the medium with more detail and citations to the key secondary sources that discuss his role. I agree that a short discussion on improv theater in education belongs here as well; the discussion thread immediately above is about how best to add that content. Regards! VQuakr (talk) 01:30, 13 August 2011 (UTC)

Whole Ariticle Needs to br Rewritten[edit]

i believe this whole article needs to be rewritten fromntop to bottom. In jumps around in a chronological sense, thereby notbshowingbin a cohesive way how improvisational theatre has developed. There is a lot of text devoted to thevwork of Keith Jonstone, but his work is no more important than dozens of other writers; moreover, his importance is no where near as significant in the US as is the work of Spolin, Shepherd, Sills, and Close (and the rolenof IO and The Second City.

The article, in it's present form, looks like a hodge-podge of sentences and paragraphs from many authors with no attention paid to consistency.

A rewrite would also avoid some duplication.

How does one initiate such a process? Who selects the person to take the first stab at it? I would propose that Michael Golding of Los Angeles do the rewrite. He has a masters degree in improvisation from NYU, personally knows many of the people who have created modern improvisational theatre (Shepherd, Sills, Close, Halpern to name a few), and is a professional writer (his latest credit is for writing the film "David Shepherd: A Lifetime of Improvisational Theatre"). Any thoughts? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jwyllie (talkcontribs) 00:00, 14 August 2011 (UTC)

The rule on Wikipedia is Be Bold ...but please be careful. If you want to edit the page, there's an edit tab right there. If you think someone else should edit the page, and have some way of contacting the person, just ask him and point him towards the page.

However, blanking the page and starting again is likely to result in a lot of bruised feelings. It might be better to approach things section by section. It would be better still to make plenty of use of this talk page. -Dhodges (talk) 00:52, 14 August 2011 (UTC)


I found it interesting that German Wikipedia gives Stegreiftheater ([[1]]) as a precursor to modern Improvisational Theatre. Should this be reflected in this article? (talk) 10:28, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

James Hawdon added subheading to Improvisational Theater[edit]

Just a few words and feelings on how comedic improv can be achieved even for the mundane out of practice actor. Jimbobbit (talk) 02:22, 3 April 2014 (UTC)

James Hawdon added subheading to Improvisational Theater[edit]

Just a few words and feelings on how comedic improv can be achieved even for the mundane out of practice actor. Jimbobbit (talk) 02:22, 3 April 2014 (UTC)

Proposal: Remove "Practice and Playing - Comedic"[edit]

The section titled "Practice and Playing - Comedic" is largely opinion especially within the improv community, thus it lacks a "Neutral Point of View." I propose removing it entirely. R. Kevin Doyle (talk)May 26 2014 9:38 PM (HST)

Updating Links[edit]

Some of the links in the notes are broken, and I can't figure out how to fix them. Can someone please update? is where you will find the documentary on David Shepherd. is a preview of Acting: An Altered State of Consciousness (the TaylorandFrancis link has changed.)

Thank you! (talk) 19:25, 9 January 2015 (UTC) Lauren

problem(s) with references[edit]

"In the field of the psychology of consciousness, Eberhard Scheiffele explored the altered state of consciousness experienced by actors and improvisers in his scholarly paper Acting: an altered state of consciousness.[15] According to G. William Farthing in The Psychology of Consciousness comparative study, actors routinely enter into an altered state of consciousness (ASC).[16] "

15 Scheiffele, Eberhard (2001). "an altered state of consciousness". Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance 6 (2): 179–191. doi:10.1080/13569780120070722. 16 "Levels of Consciousness".

note 15 may (or may not) be relevant, but article requires $40 to access, so I can't check it

note 16 links to a page that gives an unattributed digest of some thinking in psychology; two paras on Farthing (& Schooler), only one use of "actor" (in general sense of one who acts), no use of alter*, no use of "ASC" --neither an appropriate source nor one that supports the sentence to which the note is attached. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:18, 11 September 2015 (UTC)

The Laughmasters reference should be removed. They were not the first or only "Chicago style" school in Australia and are a small commercial business, and for profit. This looks like a SEO link. They are not a "Notable contributors to the field". — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:11, 10 February 2017 (UTC)