About the School
For now, the story of this school is the story of the guy who founded it: Will Hines. That's me, and I am the one writing this.
In 1999, I started studying improv at the then new Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York City. Though I was a computer programmer with no performing experience or aspirations, I loved my classes and got really into it. Over the next few years I was asked to join the theater's house teams and was hired as one of their teachers. I left my day job behind and joined the legion of semi-professional actors and improv coaches.
It's difficult to overstate its affect on my life.
From the practice of doing improv: not only did I acquire some basic skills of listening, reacting, seeing patterns and enjoying irony -- but improv helped me believe that I was a creative person, express my sense of humor to other people and in general become the person I dreamed of being.
From the UCB's style of improv in particular, I learned to appreciate that improv has both a creative and an analytical side. It's art and math. They work together to make really interesting and surprising comedy.
From the improv community worlwide, I learned that when an improv theater is working well, it can bring together like-minded people and let them appreciate each other's sensibilities, celebrate each other's creativity and push them to be great artists and people.
My dream would be to help other people have even a little bit of that experience! At a minimum, I'd hope these classes let people enjoy themselves and each other as they become better listeners, actors and comedians.
This school started during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown of 2020. It's been attracting high-quality improvisers from around the world who perform together and meet each other in these classes. A nice thing to come out of a tough time.
Some Terms, for the Improv Aficianados
If you are familiar the schools of improv out there, we teach game-based, Chicago-style, long-form improv with teachers mostly trained at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. That all may mean nothing to you, which is fine! You are still welcome to take classes and enjoy them!
- This means freeform scenes that are made up on the spot, like a comedic play. This term is to distinguish it from "short-form" which are highly structured improv "games" like you might see on the show "Whose Line Is It, Anyway?" Short form is fun, but that's not what we teach here.
- "Chicago style"
- This describes the improv teaching that descends from Chicago since the late 1950s. It focuses on mantras of "yes, and" and "truth in comedy" as developed by Del Close and other Chicago teachers. The way we get suggestions, start and end scenes, organize ourselves into teams all comes from conventions developed in Chicago. This term is used mostly in non-American improv communities to distinguish it from other big schools of improv, like the Keith Johnstone teachings.
- This describes improv that consciously focuses on finding an unusual thing and heightening it. It focuses on the comedy of the scene. This is a practice developed and championed by the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater (founders trained in Chicago, though their theaters were set up in New York City and Los Angeles).
Honestly, none of that matters too much. If you are interested in learning to do some improv comedy -- making up comedic scenes on the spot without a script -- we can help you do that.
I hope to develop a more firm catalog of courses available here. I also hope to create an environment that matches what improv theaters always felt like to me: a place for enthusiastic creative people to learn how to work together and appreciate each other.
I left computer programming. But I did build this site myself. That's why it's so charmingly homemade. Still, not bad right? Been out of that game for like 15 years, you know.
You can a bit more about my credits in my teacher's bio.