Festival fans will get the opportunity to explore their inner comedian alongside the professionals at this year’s Sarasota Improv Festival

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(Sarasota, FL) — Festival fans will get the opportunity to explore their inner comedian alongside the professionals at this year’s Sarasota Improv Festival. Techniques for musical improv, emotional recall, flashform, sketch writing for television, and more will be taught during a series of 11 different workshops. Taught by cast members from some of the hottest improv groups from the United States and even far away as Spain, workshops will be held on Saturday, July 11. All sessions are $29. Workshop tickets may be purchased online at floridastudiotheatre.org or by calling the box office at 941-366-9000.

FST Director of Improv, Will Luera, speaks to the caliber of workshops at this year’s festival stating, “The Sarasota Improv Festival is proud to announce a world class line-up of instructors for this year’s festival. They’re bringing their knowledge and skills to our audience in professional workshops that are available to anyone. If you’ve ever been tempted to take a comedy class, this will be a perfect opportunity to learn improvisation, musical improvisation, or sketch comedy. We have instructors that have taught and performed all over the world including on Broadway and The Colbert Report! In addition to being amazing instructors, they are also superb performers that audiences will have a chance to see on our stages. If you are a student or fan of comedy, there is no better way to take advantage of this Festival than by taking in a show and following it up with a class being taught by the folks you just saw onstage.”

Returning improv workshop student, and a veteran student of FST’s own improv classes, Paula Morrissey reveals why she keeps coming back for more laughs. “I keep coming back to challenge myself, visit with old and new friends, and laugh for hours. Sometimes I’m laughing at others but mostly I’ve learned to laugh at myself. There’s nothing quite like the thrill that a good ‘belly laugh’ will give you. It’s great natural medicine. This year I’ll be focusing on the musical concepts to master and incorporate into the improv skills already in my ‘cookie jar.’ What an opportunity to have the Masters all coming here!”

FST’s Managing Director and Producer of the festival, Rebecca Hopkins speaks to the benefit of the workshops stating, “From the beginning, workshops have been an integral part of the festival. It is one of the greatest benefits to the performers themselves. They have the opportunity to focus on new skills and share techniques with each other. They have been particularly important to the Florida artists. Improvisers from all over the state come to learn from some of the top national improvisers in the field. For the novice, it’s a chance to take a beginning workshop and put your feet in the water. It’s amazing to see someone in the audience on Friday night, take a class on Saturday morning, and then talk to them Saturday night. It’s like they’ve been show the secrets behind a magic trick. Suddenly, they are participating at an even deeper level. They start to see how to pull that rabbit out of the hat before it poops on your hair.”

Learn how to create hip-hop hilarity on the spot from NYC’s own North Coast Improv. Get advice from TV writer, Peter Gwinn of the Colbert Report, on the ins and outs of Sketch TV writing. Maybe try your hand at some classic improv shortform with ImprovBoston. There’s an improv style fit for everyone.

All workshops are $29. Workshop tickets may be purchased online at floridastudiotheatre.org or by calling the box office at 941-366-9000. Improv Festival ticket pricing varies, with 3 day passes available for $69, weekend passes at $59, nightly at $49, and individual shows at $10/each. Thursday’s Florida Sampler Party tickets are $20 and Featured Act tickets are $15. All festival passes are now on sale and may be purchased by calling the Box Office at
941-366-9000, or by going online at floridastudiotheatre.org.

Workshop Schedule: Saturday, July 11

All workshops are $29 each for a two hour session with the professionals.

10am – Intro to Musical Improv hosted by STACKED

10am – Reinventing Shortform hosted by ImprovBoston

10am – Emotional Recall hosted by Sick Puppies

10am – Lights Out! Hosted by Comedy School Dropouts

12:30pm – Advanced Musical Improv hosted by ImprovBoston and Baby Wants Candy

12:30pm – Flashform hosted by Post Dinner Conversation

12:30pm – The Power of Assumption hosted by Villain

12:30pm – Parallel universes, to other forms hosted by Omar Argentino Galvan

3:00pm – Improvised Hip Hop hosted by North Coast

3:00pm – Sketch Writing for Television hosted by Peter Gwinn from The Colbert Report

3:00pm – Keeping it Real Yo hosted by The Third Thought

Intro to Musical Improv hosted by STACKED

An introduction to the basics of musical improv, this three-hour workshop covers all of the essential skills needed to succeed in creating improvised songs. Focusing on basic song structure, theatricality, rhyming, and applying existing improv skills in song.

Reinventing Shortform hosted by ImprovBoston

Every decent improviser knows shortform, right? Not so fast. If you think shortform is easy, hack, or gimmicky, you’re not doing it right. Discover the art of shortform with Deana Criess, the Director of ImprovBoston’s National Touring Company.  Learn how to connect with an audience, attack the stage, and find the game within the game. Geek out on structures, comedic angles, and ever-elusive hosting techniques. Gain valuable scenic, collaborative, character, audience interaction, and fast-play skills that you can apply to most any other style of improv. One thing’s for sure: after this workshop, you will never look at shortform the same way.

Emotional Recall Workshop hosted by Sick Puppies

Generating real emotion from real memories, re-creating them, acting them out, then re-purposing them for the purpose of an improv scene.  This teaches your body how to physically feel the emotion so you can recall it over and over.


Lights Out! Hosted by Comedy School Dropouts

Lights Out! will introduce techniques that can be utilized in The Bat, Blind Harold, or any other longform done in the dark. In this workshop, students will review elements of scene painting, soundscape, and endowment that are conducive to creating strong imagery. Students will then practice using those tools along with verbal editing techniques and solid scene work, with the goal of a spontaneously created comedy performance done in pitch blackness. With “Lights Out!”, there are no limits to where your scenes can go.

Advanced Musical Improv hosted by ImprovBoston and Baby Wants Candy

Legendary music improv ensemble Baby Wants Candy and nationally-renowned comedy theater ImprovBoston team up to take your music improv to the next level. Discover the simple joy and comedic power of game-driven songs. Using two fundamental structures (verse/chorus and lastline tagline), participants will explore the ridiculous fun that comes through effortlessly heightening the lyrical, emotional, physical, situational and musical patterns that present themselves in the moments leading up to a song. We’ll play with the emotional and reactive scenic building blocks that lead to the best improvised songs. Experience how the success of the song is virtually guaranteed before the first note is even sung. With years of co-teaching and collaborative experience, Erica and Mike are thrilled to team up and share their passion for mind-melting musical improv.

Flashform hosted by Post Dinner Conversation

Flashform is a fast and furious style for playing narrative as game in long form shows. You’ll learn how to listen for the edit in any scene, playing with editing-for-game and editing-for-narrative techniques to drive the story as you follow the funny. You’ll play the whole time, getting reps building worlds through platform and diametric and blackout scenes. You’ll leave with a new, high octane way to blow up the stage.

The Power of Assumption hosted by Villain

The only difference between a good improviser and a great one is making strong choices in the moment and committing to them fully. The key to a strong performance is making assumptions based on what is going on moment to moment in a scene. Things will always change as the scene goes on but if we are committed fully to each large assumption we make about what’s going on in our scene we will find the key to our best work. Get some actionable techniques for lasting change for the better in your scenes! You have the Power!

Parallel universes, to other forms taught by Omar Argentino Galvan

NOTE: This workshop will be taught in Spanish but will have a translator. Omar invites you to discover and practice inspiring new ways to bring improvisation to the scene. The workshop will present new and funny theatrical and improv conventions developed internationally and presented in the USA for the first time. These tools are specific to the work and style of Omar Argentino Galván: poetry of movement, parallel universes, and zoom in/zoom out.

Improvised Hip Hop hosted by North Coast

Think you’ve got what it takes to freestyle?  Are you an improviser who knows how to rhyme but can’t rap?  At the core, improv and free-styling go hand-in-hand.  Whether you’re going in for 8-bars, dropping a beat into a mic, or initiating an improv scene, the same principles apply.  Join Raero & Doug of North Coast, NYC’s premier free-style rapping, beatboxing, long-form improv team, as they guide you through the tricks to turn your Dad Raps into Biggie quality rhymes.  Learn how to set yourself up, find your flow, and weave your rapped verses in and out of your scene work.

Sketch Writing for Television hosted by Peter Gwinn from The Colbert Report

Peter Gwinn is an Emmy awarding winning writer (The Colbert Report) and will lead a workshop on writing topical (and non-topical) satirical comedy for stage and television. He will focus on the brainstorming, editing, and writing methods he used at The Colbert Report, the Second City and elsewhere. Students are expected to arrive at the workshop well-informed about recent current events (i.e., the top stories in each major “newspaper section:” U.S. news, world news, sports, entertainment, business, etc.). Students are expected to prepare two pitches based on current events, consisting of a summary of the news story and a comedic viewpoint or angle on the story. In other words, what’s the story, and what do you think is funny about it?  Students should bring laptops or other writing equipment to class.

Keeping it Real Yo hosted by The Third Thought

Improvisational Theatre by definition is make believe, anything goes, choosing from the infinite. In the world of unlimited possibility, scenes can get crazy quick. If players aren’t grounded and ‘keeping it real’ it will get messy fast. Playing grounded, true to yourself and honestly can prevent an infinite number of disasters in scenes as well as keeping the audience involved because of the justified reality within the scene work. Exercises in bonding with your scene partner, agreeing to the world created on stage, and finding and playing the available games will be covered. 

About Florida Studio Theatre

Known as Sarasota’s Contemporary Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre was founded in 1973 by Jon Spelman. Starting out as a small touring company, FST traveled to places such as migrant camps and prisons. The company then acquired the former Woman’s Club building, becoming the first permanent venue. Shortly after Richard Hopkins arrived, the building was purchased and renamed The Keating Theatre. In the years that followed, Florida Studio Theatre established itself as a major force in American Theatre, presenting contemporary theatre in its five theatre venues: the Keating Theatre, the Gompertz Theatre, the Parisian style Goldstein Cabaret, and John C. Court Cabaret, and Bowne’s Lab Theatre.

Even with its growth, Florida Studio Theatre remains firmly committed to making the arts accessible and affordable to a broad-based audience. FST develops theatre that speaks to our living, evolving, and dynamically changing world. As FST grows and expands, it continues to provide audiences with challenging, contemporary drama and innovative programs.


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