Improv comedy groups from around the world converge for 12-day theater affair
Silly People’s Improv Theater (SPIT) is the Philippines’ premiere improvisational theater group known for their smart and incisive brand of comedy. Considered as one of the best improv comedy troupes in Asia, SPIT has had almost a thousand performances in the last decade to both local and international audiences. Moreover, the group has represented the country in the Los Angeles, Beijing and Hong Kong Comedy Festivals, the Improv Festivals in New York and Chicago, and more recently, the Amsterdam Improv Festival in January.
Improvisational theater is a form of theater where scenes are co-created by the audience and the actors in real time, without the benefit of a script or prior rehearsals for the performers. Because of this method, watching an improvised theater show is more akin to performance art due to its non-conventional approach.
This year, the Manila International Improv Festival 2015 opened on July 2 and will run through July 12 in partnership with two prominent Philippine institutions. Silliman University in Dumaguete is currently hosting the Tropical Improv Camp until July 5, while the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) serves as the partner venue where all performances will be held from July 8 to 12.
The performance art fair is hosting improv comedy groups from around the world: PIP Show (Warsaw), Impro Mafia (Brisbane), Pirates of Tokyo Bay (Tokyo), Landry & Summers (Los Angeles), To Be Continued, People’s Liberation Improv, 3 Dudes Improv and Lamb Ink (Hong Kong), The Improv Company (Singapore), Taichung Improv (Taichung), The Beijing Collective (Beijing), and People’s Republic of Comedy and Zmack (Shanghai). Meanwhile, representing the Philippines are the Bacolod Improv Group (Bacolod), Dulaang Atenista (Cagayan de Oro), One and a Half Men, Switch Improv, and SPIT (Manila).
Now on its third run, SPIT is proud to say that the Manila Improv Fest has earned the distinction of being the “improv comedy festival that has set the standard for improv comedy festivals” according to one of the festival’s regulars, Curt Mabry of Zmack, Shanghai.
This year’s festival theme is “Finding the Game”—a nod to the games and exercises that improvisers use in performance, and an affirmation of the playful nature of improvisation.
Meanwhile, Silliman University plays to the festival’s conference component, which is a gathering of improvisers who have taken the principles of improv theater and have used it as a method for facilitating learning events including corporate and organizational settings. In partnership with the Applied Improvisation Network, which counts Gabe Mercado as the very first Filipino board member, this is the second year this particular track has been incorporated in the festival, after a well-received run in Casa San Pablo, Laguna in 2013.
The said outing had 30 applied improv practitioners from London, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the United States and Manila in attendance. Apart from a mutual exchange among participants on their experiences on the myriad applications of improvised theatre techniques ranging from the fields of the visual arts, to education for learners with special needs, delegates experienced the rich culinary culture and the centuries-old craftworks of Laguna.
SPIT has chosen Silliman University, Dumaguete the venue for the conference this year to highlight two things from this destination—their distinguished literary heritage and the pristine beaches lining the province.
Moreover, the PETA-Phinma theater will be home to the festival performers and has been quite invested in our preparations. The joint marketing efforts is poised to attract at least 5,000 guests to the 25 performances scheduled, and about 500 delegates to the workshops that have been meticulously curated together the international performers.
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