Impro World Tour

Ramblings and Wonderings of a world of Improvisation
Browsing GROUPS



Today in our mini – “Impro Bit” lesson – Commitment.

Wrong ideas will be wrong whether you whisper them or scream them.  The benefit of comtting to what you send out is that you look like a professional.  If you are wrong, you can laugh with the audience.  If you are sucessful, you just look great.

Good ideas, no matter how great they are, won’t appease an audience if you don’t commit to them. Weak ideas presented appologetically can be painful for everyone.


I’m in Trondheim, Norway and just saw a show in a sold out venue.  The level of performing in the five performers was varied.  One person was on stage for the first time, one had performed sporatically over the past year and the other three have done international performances on top of their consistent show schedule for 5 or more years.

There were times I thought an audience member was on stage in a nervous panic only to realize I was watching the newest performer.

She had warmth and vulnerability but she rarely presented her own ideas. She waited for the senior performers to suggest what to do next.  When she did speak, she almost whispered.

It might be easy to blame her for lack of commitment but I felt that an equal amount of the blame rested with the senior performers.  Where their strength came from a commitment to the scenes and the audience, they seemed to ignore their partners on stage.

Improvisation is a team sport…  You should never be alone.  Commitment is easy when you know that you can’t be wrong because your team is there. You can’t damage anything if they are attending to the offers.

Commitment comes in may forms.

– COMMIT TO THE SCENE – don’t jump out and talk about yourself or make jokes. The scene is more fragile than your ego and in weak groups the scene rarely has anyone looking out for it.
– COMMIT TO THE AUDIENCE – If you’ve ever done a show where you have laughed more than the audience or thought the show was better than what the audience experienced, you probably have performed more for your self than the public that have paid their hard earned money to come see you.
– COMMIT TO YOUR PARTNER – Be WITH them.  See them.  Know what they are feeling.  Push them off the edge when they are resting on safe ground and catch them when they are in trouble.

Be with your partner, the audience, the scene and yourself.  That’s a lot to commit to.

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The Journey, The Destination


Bogota Colombia.  April 3.   Camilo from PICNIC IMPRO drops me a note!  “HEY SHAWN!  I will come by and take you some place in Bogota!”

We walk down the street with the question of where to go.  Ah! OK, we will go to the coffee place.  But, rodents and mystics disrupt that plan.

As we walk, we see a crowd of people from all areas of society – children, businessmen, old people, men, women and even a military guy.  We bend our path and investigate.  It seems that it’s a “mystic” handing out blessings.  I’ve never seen it before but the thing that looks like a street act is a modern mystic entrancing a crowd.

A little further down the street are three elderly people.  One is dressed all in white, with a top hat and is lip syncing to an amplified bit of jazz while an elderly woman and man do a crazy happy dance. Were they an old performing group?  No time to ask them.  They start dancing again.street dance

Then there’s a strange machine that seems like it MIGHT want to make ice cream but it dances on the road so violently that all  that is makes is noise.

And 4 or 5 crazy things later there’s the Guinea pig races… I’ve never seen such patient, well trained Guinea pigs. They are lined up at one end of the street and people place money on colourful Guinea Pig guinea pigs in Bogotahomes hoping to bet on the right rodent.

SO!… Here’s my point.  Once and a while consider that the destination as interesting as it might be will wait for you.  Be present and participate in the journey.  Listen to the music, watch the people, bet on a little furry creature.  The destination will wait for you.

As an improviser approach your work like a walk in an interesting neighbourhood.  Let your path bend when something more interesting presents itself.  Give up control to the moment.  Your story will be richer than what it could be than if you follow your safe path rigidly like an obedient donkey.

Oh… did I mention the Donkeys?  boys and burros

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Advanced improvisation versus Basics… Young and Old… Strength and Weakness…


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IMPRO as a social concern:


This Sunday at the Loose Moose Theatre in Calgary, Canada a group of improvisers will get together for a good cause. They will hold a benefit performance to aid in the rebuilding of The Court Jesters home in Christchurch, New Zealand.

If you remember, Feb 22, 2011, Christchurch was devastated by an earthquake that killed many and destroyed a large chunk of the city.

The home of the JESTERS in Christchurch NZ.The Jester’s home at the Court Theatre ( didn’t survive the quake.


Emma Cusdin, a member of the Jesters, had been living in Calgary and exploring the Loose Moose when she had the idea to put some spontaneous entertainment together to raise cash and bring the plight of her home back to the public’s attention.

We hear about the initial devastation and then we move on to the next sexy disaster, forgetting about those still in the messes of Earthquakes, famine, disease and any other disaster.

Improvisers are in a perfect position to help those in need.  We can mobilize quickly and adapt to almost any condition to put on a show that people will willingly come to.

It’s a common belief that performers are generally a self centered bunch, happy to get their time on stage and complain when their dressing room is missing a stocked bar.  We know this isn’t true (of everyone).  But it is a little surprising at how rarely we donate a show, a moment or a piece of our time and talent for a good cause.

Consider an idea being developed at the moment at the Loose Moose.  “Thursdays for a Cause”.  One day of the month would be given to a cause to aid in benefitting the community at large. In reality it takes little effort on the theatre’s side because the benefitting organization will take up the administration and the performers just need to drop in for a couple of hours and entertain.

There is a movement growing that looks at the win/win mentality of idealistic partnerships in the corporate world.  Altruism is not all that it appears to be.  When we give to others, the obvious outcome is a financial boost to a needy group and a focus of attention on their cause.

The unseen benefits include a broadening of the theatre’s audience base. (Consider the massive mailing list that the Cancer foundation or Alzheimer’s society advertises their programs to.)

There’s also the media possibilities as your company benefits from the ‘altruistic’ connection you are creating. There are other hidden benefits that make this more than a “freebie” but in fact turn it into a beneficial marketing venture.

And in the end, the idea of building a strong relationship with the community will only benefit you in the long run.

“Improv Meets Autism”  was a successful  fund-and-awareness raising Improvisational event put together by two German improvisers Christiane and Deniz Döhler whose son Luka has autism.

Reading about the SonRise Program which had great success with autistic children, Christiane and Deniz noticed that the program had similar qualities as improvisation; support, seeing offers and adding to them.

“After having overcome an initial shyness, I started by telling one workshop participant about the parallels between the pro-gram and improv and she immediately volunteered to come and play with our child. Two months later, it was ten improv players and we always explained the program in improv lingo. We kept looking for appropriate improv games and techniques that could help us reach our goal. And Luka’s development skyrocketed.

Search the internet and you will find numerous improvisation groups tackling issues and concerns to make the world a brighter place for everyone. Consider reaching out and offering your skills to a cause.  You might discover that your own benefit is greater than the expense.

There’s a final note about the Christchurch fundraiser.  Unexpectantly,  Emma’s father passed away a few days ago and Emma was on the first flight home.  She tossed in the towel for the benefit show.  There was too much to do and she understandably wanted to be near her family.

Before her plane set down in her home of Christchurch, a group of improvisers in Canada had already taken up her cause.  The show will go on for Christchurch.  Take care Emma.

Lovely Latin America…


The tour is coming together for Latin America.

Is it Latin America or South America?  Is there a difference?  And why do I feel bad saying one and not the other?  (Did you ever have a guilty feeling about inanimate objects and concepts when you don’t use them equally?  Hmmm… that’s insane.  )

Where was I?

Shawn will be teaching improvisation in Latin America

Shawn Kinley will be teaching improvisers and performing in Lovely Latin America

Oh yes.  I was booking tickets to:


Check out my schedule at SHAWNKINLEY.COM

One thing I like about Latin/South America are the people.  When I was first in Chile (and by no means was I the first to be in Chile.  Oh no…  Others have been there before me.  Many others.  So many in fact that I feel almost embarassed to be going on about this.  Almost.)

When I was first in Chile, I remember meeting people who gave me that look of “HEY, OLD FRIEND – It’s been such a long time since we’ve seen each other.  I’m so glad you’re here now.”  (Yes, there is a look for that).   I was certain that these people knew me and I had somehow forgotten their names.  But of course we had never met.  They are just so warm.  All that Chilean sunshine oozing from them.

But then… you try to kiss them and they run away.

It’s a lovely culture and I am looking forward to seeing some old friends and improvising with some new ones.

No Habla Espanol Senor!

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