I was given this book by a fellow improviser to give it a read and if you are interested in the art form then it is always important to read the history. This book solely focusses on the beginnings of the prestigious IO in Chicago, this is written by one of it’s founders Bernard Sahlins
The book explores the history from his first hand experience about how it begun and how the theatre developed over the first few decades. This is a really interesting book that outlines how they created their concepts and the ideologies right from the start. The book really goes into depth as to how the Second City started to become a shrine for finding new talent and how it became the place where the likes of John Belushi, Eugene Levi and Bill Murray started their career.
I found the first half of this book really interesting – I say first because it is technically split into two sections – the first part is a memoir and then the second half is a book about notes of staging review theatre. The first half was so interesting that you end up feeling that it is a bit short and that you want it to go more in depth and really go behind the scenes more in depth.
The second half of the book gives in depth notes and helpful exercises that can help you with your staging of theatre that follows the ideology of improv. It has a lot of really useful and helpful insights. There are a lot of exercises throughout this section that is also followed up by an example of scripts that have been used in the IO history.
Give this book a read as it is an interesting insight but sadly it is not as in depth as something like the history of SNL.
Rating – 6/10