If you’ve got an itch for improv, the ninth annual Sarasota Improv Festival, taking place July 13, 14 and 15 on the Florida Studio Theatre campus, should scratch it.
Each year the fest livens up what can be a sleepy summer with lots of laughter exploding on multiple stages, provided by improv troupes from around the country—and this year, welcoming Group Complot/Escena from Mexico City as well. In all, 23 groups take the stages to create raw, fresh comedy in a variety of improv formats, and what audiences see is always new, different, and, in some sense, a premiere.
Several of the improv companies are first-timers here in Sarasota, including Square One Improv, Brouhaha, Joe Bill & Friends and the headliner for the three-day fest, off-Broadway’s Blank! The Musical, which actually puts together a musical show-stopper onstage. Creators Michael Girts, Mike Descoteaux and T.J. Shanoff have produced, directed, performed, written for and taught at such improv institutions as Second City, Upright Citizens Brigade and ImprovBoston, and have also worked with some of musical theater’s biggest names.
The festival kicks off Thursday evening with returning Florida groups Just the Funny, Dear Aunt Gertrude, Sick Puppies, The Third Thought, Post Dinner Conversation, Villain Theatre and hometown favorites FST Improv. On Friday and Saturday nights, groups will perform 40-minute sets with STACKED, When X Meets Y, Dad’s Garage, Available Cupholders, ImprovBoston, Parallelogramophonograph, North Coast Improv, SAK Comedy Lab and the return of FST Improv.
And Saturday night concludes the weekend with the “All Play” performance in the Gompertz Theatre—the one night where every single performer in the festival is onstage playing together at the same time. Consider it comedic chaos.
Passes are now on sale, with three-day passes $75, two-day $65, Friday or Saturday passes $49 and Thursday passes $20. For a complete schedule (there’s also a Saturday workshop line-up during the day for aspiring improv artists) and to purchase tickets, call (941) 366-9000 or go to floridastudiotheatre.org.