Attend a performance of theatrical improvisation and you never know what you’re going to get. Improvisation, or improv, is a live performance that’s made up in the moment. And it can never be duplicated. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be improv.
It isn’t just the audience who won’t know what’s about to unfold on stage on a night of improv; the performers won’t know either. That’s what makes it unique.
“Every show starts with a prompt by the audience,” says Santa Fe Improv Executive Director Kita Mehaffy. “We will ask the audience what they would like us to build a story around. It takes a lot of courage to get up there on stage and follow the person before you, to trust that what that person says is something that you can jump off of.”
Through a combination of in-person and online classes, Santa Fe Improv (santafeschoolofimprov.com) teaches improvisation to anyone curious about the theatrical form, whether they’re writers, business professionals, actors, or students. And the result of the training is an unscripted theatrical performance that inevitably involves lots of laughter.
In March of 2020, Santa Fe Improv canceled a scheduled performance and all of its classes when COVID restrictions went into place. After switching to a virtual format, the classes continued and the school’s instructors formed an improv group, dubbing themselves The Faculty. As for the students, their group, Sibling Rivalry, continued attending classes and rehearsals online until restrictions eased and in-person classes could resume.
The Faculty and Sibling Rivalry go on stage at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 24, for The Faculty: An Improv Comedy Show at the Santa Fe Playhouse (142 E. De Vargas St., 505-988-4262, santafeplayhouse.org). Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the door or in advance at santafeplayhouse.org. It’s Santa Fe Improv’s first in-person performance in more than a year.
Teaching improv isn’t about teaching comedy, even if it inevitably leads to antics that tickle the funny bone. Students at Santa Fe Improv learn communication skills, teamwork, and creativity. The comedy stems from the unpredictable nature of the unscripted play. In other words, if you want to learn improv, you don’t need to be funny.
The Faculty is an 18 or older event. Masks are required.