The Improv Diaries – part 5 – Improv Everywhere

This time I write the Improv diaries not as a beginner any more but as an improver! I have upgraded, passed beginners and now taking the next steps forward to eventually perform in front of a live audience (in the future which I find an exciting concept and a tad nerve wracking at the same time) This time round I am with a lot of my ‘improv family’ that I was with in the beginners workshop but also with a collection of brand new faces that were from the other beginners classes. It was nice to work with new people but also to have the familiarity of the people I already knew.

The first lesson was aimed at working and revamping everything that we learnt from the beginners but apart from that it was also aimed at pushing the limits and boundaries of what we have learnt to develop more. One of the activities that we did was an improvised orchestra. Ian, our teacher would be a composer and point to us when he wanted us to make a sound and then we would repeat this sound until told to stop. The theme was Christmas and it was a very fun game to learn how keeping focus on the leader is vital as well as having a good time.

Improv Everywhere

These elements that we learnt from the orchestra game can be transferred if you look at the work done by the American organisation called Improv Everywhere. The performance art group p is based in New York and their slogan is ‘We Cause Scenes.’

There is a massive network of people that part takes in these scenes which they call missions and they could also be seen as flash mobs. The goal of the missions is to create chaos and joy and in the past the y have pretended to be mannequins in Gap, stood still like statues in Central Station, produced musicals, introduced the MP3 project and also the no pants on the subway day.


Everywhere formed in 2001 by a guy called Charlie Todd, since joining Youtube in 2005 their videos have gone insanely viral and has created a high interest in Improv in the New York circuit.  If you look at what we did in our first improvers class and then look at the work of Improv Everywhere you will notice some similarities even if they are very different in their ways.

Improv Everywhere like to create a scene to get unknown members of the public to feel involved, whilst the ideas are initially planned, the reactions of the public and the way that the members participating act are not. Sometimes their ideas have got them into trouble with the NYPD an example of this is when they pretended to be mannequins in a gap store and started moving and scared a lot of the customers. Whilst they were all part of the big initial idea (like the orchestra) they did their own unique movements when they were in character (like we did with the orchestra).

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