Workshops are grouped into 5 general categories:
Masterclass (MA): For experienced improvisers and professionals seeking to expand their range.
Longform (LO): Techniques for your troupe’s longforms and/or creating original show format.
Character (CH): Tools to explore real or comical characters and strong points of view.
Fun! Fun! (FF): Good ol’ fun for everyone and re-discovering the joy of improv.
Personal Growth (PG): Facing personal challenges and discovering yourself as improviser.
DAVID RAZOWSKY · An open welcome event by legendary Second City artistic director David Razowsky and his approach to improvisation. Free for participants of the festival. IMPRO NEUF LOVES YOU!
* Not a workshop
DAVID RAZOWSKY · The focus of this master class is to get the actor to set aside all of the unnecessary elements of improv training and replace them with a life-changing awareness of “You being on stage with you.” The most important person on stage is YOU. YOU get to notice what happens, YOU get to be aware of what’s inspiring you, YOU get to follow what energizes you, and YOU get to celebrate the surprises that YOU create. With the full-day YOU masterclass you’ll enter the world of personal awareness and presentness, of the excitement of knowing what to do the moment the moment arrives! YOU are in charge, and this workshop will be a study of--and a practice of--you connecting to you. YOU are the boss of YOU.
*Participants of this workshop may perform in a showcase event at the end of the workshop (optional).
DAVID RAZOWSKY · Most scenes go off track because we’re not aware of our character’s or our partner’s character’s point-of-view. The very first exchanges of your scene tell you all you need to know about who you are and where to go, every single time. This workshop, hailed as “Vital...an eye-opener...,” exposes you to what you’re feeling, what your focus is, and what you get to give attention to. This workshop will change the way you look at scenes!
DAVID RAZOWSKY · A group scene doesn’t have to be a confusing clusterfunk. Get off the wall and get yourself into that scene! Guided 3-Person will show how the art of the three-person (+!) scene is simple once it’s broken down, leading you to stronger, challenging, surprising, and clear long-form scenes. Start it out right, heighten it, move it forward, and keep it moving. Join the crowd!
RAZOWSKY・A toolbox contains more than a hammer, so shouldn’t your scenes contain more than anger and conflict? Find creative freedom when positive emotional choices drive your scenes. Guide your scenes forward without a need to conjure up an argument, defend your side of the story, or your need to have your ego intact at the scene’s end. It’s not about winning our losing---it’s about keeping the scene alive.
JASON SHOTTS · This intensive workshop will be focused on the building blocks and execution of a two-person show. In this class we will be putting relationship and point of view front and center to build a rich and satisfying longform show. We will start with the basic tenets of a great two-person scene: making specific choices, listening hard for opportunities to react hard, speaking and behaving like human beings, bringing more of our own beliefs and experiences to the stage, knowing your character's point of view, discovering how the characters relate to each other, and playing with emotion. Then we will tackle how to play multiple characters to heighten the stakes and drive reactions, playing your scene partner's characters by making and recognizing clear physical and emotional choices, making and recognizing internal edits, and heightening and exploring all the true things we have to drive towards a clear and satisfying end to your show. Attendees will receive loads of personal feedback as well as the experience of working long scenes and doing mini shows with notes.
*Participants of this workshop may perform in a showcase event at the end of the workshop (optional).
JASON SHOTTS · We’ll work on balancing out the “weird” and the “truth” in our scenework. Too much (or not enough) of one of these elements and the audience will struggle to connect with what we’re creating. We’ll work on making sure our “weird” is weird enough. We’ll discuss how to “fuel” our weirdos and push them as hard as we can.
We’ll also take off our “Yes, And” improv training wheels and attack our scenes with some brutal truths. What do you honestly think/feel/want to say? Say it! Let’s get an audience to relate to us in a real way. Let go of what you’re “supposed" to do and have some fun!
SHOTTS · Humans are naturally defensive. We can’t help it. Couple that with being watched by an audience and you can’t help but separate and put up walls, which makes “building a relationship” incredibly difficult. “Yes, And” sounds easy in practice, but why does it feel so hard when you’re up onstage?
First, we’ll focus on techniques that will help you drop your defensive mechanisms so that you can truly start having fun with your scene partners. Only then can we discover what “Our Thing” is. Let’s “Get in a Boat” together and start having fun. Next, we’ll couple “Our Thing” with “My Thing”. That way you’ll never need to ask yourself “What’s next?” in a scene again.
COLLEEN DOYLE · A 2-day intensive for experienced improvisors. We will work on the skills needed to more easily create fun, satisfying, and successful longform pieces. Scenes are the building blocks of great shows and we will focus on the 2-person scene to lay the foundation—wants, points of view, relationships, and heightening. We will then explore ways to use what we know about the characters, relationships, and ideas we've created to heighten and expand the comedic universe of our shows. Finally, we'll expand on what we already know about editing, openings, and group games to create magical and surprising organic moments on stage--embracing physical choices and trusting group mind.
COLLEEN DOYLE · This workshop is all about keeping your scenes honest and playing moment-to-moment to make improv easy and fun again. Connect with your scene partner, get out of your head, and bring more of yourself to the stage by relying on who you are and what you feel. You’ll get lots of reps doing two person scenes. Loads of personal feedback and tough love!
DOYLE · Articulate your choices, make your point of view understood, and react enthusiastically to all the important stuff happening around you. This workshop revisits and strengthens these fundamentals to help you more easily create clear, collaborative, and hilarious scenes and shows.
JEFF MICHALSKI · This workshop features techniques to simultaneously connect with fellow actors and audience, to discover what the scene is about within the first few lines, and to continue in constant connective movement to all actors in the scene. Jeff Michalski employs Meisner techniques to read the other player, Viewpoint techniques to help the actor be continuously alert and reference any stimulus happening on stage or in the house. Jeff helps players discover a kinesthetic awareness to keep them constantly in touch with other players on stage and off. By highlighting moments to break open and unify themes, Jeff synthesizes what he learned from Del Close in the development of long form improv and what Del used to identify the focus of scenes through improvisation at the Second City. By referencing key gestures, physical, and verbal patterns, players will see ways to connect scenes without the need to bridge them with story. By consciously creating gestures linked to language and referencing their ancillary cultural meanings, the player learns to create new and distinct original language shared by player and audience specific to that night’s performance.
JEFF MICHALSKI · How to create your own long form using the practices you've been introduced to. Understanding and recreating creative engagement by being aware of Creativity Theory and how the artist from a place of tolerance of ambiguity uses pattern recognition and divergent thinking to recreate and expand emerging patterns into multiple pathways of creativity within the abstract to discover content. Convergent Thinking. The aha moment when you discover what the patterns mean. What the scene and or form are about. How to recognize and create the scripted space. The space that informs the audience of the Long Form lore you are co-creating. This sounds like an in-depth and complicated agenda. But it is mostly achieved through simple practices of movement observation and manifesting the observations of your scene partners. It is an exhilarating practice. By the end you should be able to improvise with any one no matter the difference in training or technique. Its the Whole Ball of Wax.
MICHALSKI · Referencing in real time all stimulus, player and audience movement sound and the architecture of the space. Pattern Recognition - observing repeating and referencing emerging patterns of engagement. How ensemble play works.
STACEY SMITH · Bailamos! Let the rhythm take you over. We’re going to heighten the way we listen and react to offers given to us by our musician. Improvised choreography, interesting stage pictures and physical support, style commitment - let’s dance!
STACEY SMITH · The Musical Armando is a long-form musical improv show that has been running at the world famous iO Theater for the past six years. In this two-day intensive, not only will students rediscover the basics of musical improv, but they will deep dive into theatricality, song structure and heightened inspiration from monologues. This intensive is for students who are intermediate to advanced in improv and/or musical improv.
SMITH · Love improv? Love to sing? Combine the two! This workshop will focus on basic song structure, chorus building, rhyming, harmonizing, theatricality and creating that perfect show-stopping solo, duet or group number!
CRAIG UHLIR · This workshop is about the value and built in support of the tag mechanism used in long form improv. We will play and discuss theories around tagging into scenes. Plot versus game versus function. La Ronde and Beer Shark Mice and Scene Chain , all 3 being tag based long forms, will be discussed and taught.
CRAIG UHLIR · This is a Group Game workshop to further enhance and theorize about "the group game"; slot. Get a better understanding of how they work, get formed, and learn how to start or play ANY group game without feeling lost. In this workshop we will explore informational group game work. We will explore group game theory and play non-scenic, informational game types that can be used as openings and in the ‘game slots’ of a Harold or any long form.
UHLIR · Scenes with an emphasis on the senses of hearing, Speaking, and Eye Contact. Augment your scene work with simple things that help you connect with your scene partner and make things happen!
ANDEL SUDIK · For advanced improvisers who miss when it was play. Just plain dumb fun. The more improv you do the more rules there are and the more you get caught up in how to do a ‘good’ scene, opportunities missed or wanting to look good. F That! How do we get back to that state of childlike play while keeping all our incredible adult knowledge? This workshop was created to allow us to play, to recognize what it feels like and how it can be harnessed and to take the pressure off. Based in physical theater and GOOD OLD FASHIONED PLAY FOR THE SAKE OF PLAY we will follow the fun and see what can happen when we stop worrying about the destination and enjoy the ride together.
ANDEL SUDIK · That thing you hate about yourself? It's your greatest gift. We’ve all got baggage and while improv isn’t therapy it can be very cathartic. Bring yourself into the room and we’ll play with all the stuff you’re used to hiding:-) Through games, scene work and discussion you will find new doors into character work using more of yourself.
ANDEL SUDIK · 95% or improv is giving yourself permission but sometimes it’s nice to grant that permission and be thrown into new choices.
This workshop we will pimp you into characters, premises and scenes. You’ll get to try on a shitload of new characters and choices you never would’ve thought of yourself in a safe and playful space. The ultimate improv trust, the ultimate challenge to your comfort zone. Test your ability to ‘let go’ and play. I’ll invite you to success hard and FAIL harder.
Then in the second half of the workshop we’ll take that commitment, confidence and energy and channel it into creating a short form improv showcase. We’ll learn the game mechanics and get them to work for us so we can retain the fire, fun and freedom while also looking polished. Tackling a variety of short form games through acting exercises and character work, let’s get serious about being fucking funny.
Great for Long Form improvisers looking to expand their character range and Short Form improvisers looking to level up.
SUDIK · What’s your Hidden Knowledge? No matter how ‘real’ (Quantum Physics) or how ‘dumb’ (the cadence of characters in Joss Whedon shows), we use that wealth of knowledge to create content whether or not your scene partner has any idea what you’re pulling from! Add specificity, joy and POV to your improvisation without even having to try.
SUSAN MESSING · Learn to play from power, make strong choices, and experience the freedom of full-bodied play. Chicago improv rock star Susan Messing is a founding member of the Annoyance, a theatre which has been teaching thousands of improvisers for 30 years to get out of their heads and improvise with fearless abandon. If there is a punk rock of improv, this is it.
SUSAN MESSING · The only way to heighten funny is to be funnier. Good luck with that. Our audience and our scene partners are interested in our specificity, not our dick jokes. Get some specifics in your character, so you don't stand there as yourself and argue until we're all bored to tears. Lots of deliciousness to pull out the comedy instead of hoping you'll be funny and then wanting to kill yourself. Your work will become more effortless, whether in long or short form.
SUSAN MESSING · Dear Susan / Addressing Frustrated Improv Disease Syndrome (FIDS)
It's time for you to bring in your questions about improv that you have never been able to get answered- you know, the stuff you're almost afraid to ask about because you should have known it by now or the weirdness you get into onstage that you would love to shake off but can't or have tried to fix on your own and still doesn't work or the questions that simply lead to more joy in the work. Susan takes your questions and immediately creates exercises to address FIDS. No question too stupid. Susan loves working with this shit. She also loves run on sentences.
SUSAN MESSING · Improvisation is an active art, not a bunch of people standing around arguing with each other. This workshop is designed to make your team look visually stunning. Stage Picture, flying safety, and elements of Story Theatre and symmetry will have you off the back wall and make you and your friends look awesome.
* Susan’s note: For this special wild class, the sky is the limit. The more participants, the prettier!