Improvised Shakespeare Company: Never Has Improv Been so Unpredictable
If improv isn’t difficult enough, try pulling it off while speaking only in Shakespearean language. The Improvised Shakespeare Company has been around since 2005 to critical acclaim. In front of sold out audiences, this national touring group of players takes a suggested play title from the audience and improvises an entire production based on that suggestion, never straying from Shakespeare’s 17th-century language and rhyme that’s chock full of thous, shalts and doths. The players seamlessly transition from rhyme-filled dialogue to witty song and dance numbers while keeping with an over exaggerated Shakespearean theme complete with the romance and tragedy typical of Shakespearean times, as well as modern day innuendo and fads. Questions asked by one actor in perfect 17th-century prose may very well get a one-word contemporary answer like. The actors’ uncanny timing and ability to deliver off-the-cuff iambic dialogue are keeping audiences of this two-act production in stitches and coming back for more.
In addition to touring nationally, The Improvised Shakespeare Company also plays weekly in Chicago and features a rotating cast including Blaine Swen who founded the troupe and serves as director. Many cast members come from the same Second City stage that turned out the likes of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Thomas Middleditch, who starred in the series “Silicon Valley” on HBO and appeared in “The Wolf of Wall Street,” is a rotating player. Noted fan Patrick Stewart even visited and performed on the stage several times. Other noted players are Greg Hess, Joey Bland, Ross Bryant and Joe Burton.