Magazine article American Theatre

Who's on First?

Magazine article American Theatre

Who's on First?

Article excerpt

Re: "Longform Improv Goes the Distance" (Nov. '14): I am a San Francisco--based improviser who has performed with many troupes over the years, notably 3 For All, Improv Play-house of San Francisco, True Fiction Magazine and BATS Improv. While Matthew Love's article was interesting overall, I was disappointed to encounter the same Chicago-centric view of improvisation that is common to such articles. I enjoy the work of TJ & Dave and the Improvised Shakespeare Company, but it's inaccurate to portray them as innovators and trendsetters in the practice of longform improvisation. Here in San Francisco, BATS Improv began doing both single and multi-narrative longform in 1989, in numerous formats and genres (Noir, Romance, Shakespeare, Western, Musicals, etc.), long before Chicago (or any other city, as far as I know)--and we performed these shows to packed audiences and rave audience reviews.

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While I know I run the risk of seeming provincial in my comments, I want to emphasize that theatre is regional and that developments in new and cutting-edge formats in theatre deserve to be accurately traced back to their regional roots. In the U.S., these longform roots are in San Francisco, not in Chicago.

Unfortunately, in my experience, many Chicago-based improvisers are complicit (if not downright active) in perpetuating the self-serving myth that they have "discovered" formats which we in San Francisco, and elsewhere, have been performing for years longer than Chicago-based troupes. …

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