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The 15th annual
Chicago Improv Festival
April 23-29, 2012


Improv Fourm

Friday, April 27, 5pm-6:30pm [Free]
@ Athenaeum Theater, 2936 N. Southport Ave, Studio 1

Join Chicago improv veteran/author Jason Chin as he moderates a free-wheeling discussion about improv with CIF's 4 Co-Artistic Directors' Wendy Mateo, Susan Messing, Kevin Mullaney and Mark Sutton.


Saturday, April 28
@ Athenaeum Theater, 2936 N. Southport Ave., Studio 1

Susan Messing: Specificity, 10am-12pm [SOLD OUT]
Mark Sutton: Awesome Power of Commitment, 1pm-3pm [SOLD OUT]
ImproTOP: Phyiscal Improv Workshop, 3:30pm-6pm [SOLD OUT]

Sunday, April 29
@ Athenaeum Theater, 2936 N. Southport Av., Studio 2

Joe Bill: Playing the Game of The Scene & The Scene of The Game, 12pm-3pm [Workshop spots still available.]

Taught by Joe Bill, Sunday, 12pm-3pm, $50

In this workshop we'll bring to light the deeper scenic opportunity for character development and connection while playing the game dialogue of the scene. What's THAT mean? It's tending to your scenic chops as you tend to your game chops. It means it's not that you play the game, it's how your character plays it. Come, wear it like a veil, with power.

Joe Bill is widely regarded as one of the best Teachers of Scenic and Comedic Improvisation in America today. He currently teaches, performs and does corporate training at iO Chicago, is an Artistic Associate for The Chicago Improv Festival, and acts as an Artistic Adviser for a number of Improvisation and Comedy Theaters all over the U.S. and Canada. Joe learned his first Improv games in 1977 in High School, then from 1983-85 performed with future life long friends at Indiana University. He moved to Chicago in 1985 to study at The Second City and at Improv Olympic (now iO Chicago). Joe and a number of very talented friends co-founded of The Annoyance Theater in Chicago in 1990, under the Artistic Direction of his university friend and comedy genius Mick Napier. Passionate about teaching their unique approach to Improvised Scene and Character, teachers at Annoyance including Mick Napier, Mark Sutton, Joe Bill, David Razowsky, Bob Fisher and Susan Messing focused Improvisers on their signature approach in "taking care of themselves, in order to take care of others” in a scene. Joe and Mark Sutton, his partner in the Nationally Touring Improvised Production BASSPROV (2008 Chicago Improv Festival’s ‘Nichols & May Award’ for Top Improvisational Duo), have evolved the Annoyance approach into POWER IMPROV, which they both have been teaching all over the U.S., Canada and Europe since 2000. In March of 2012, Joe traveled to Cape Town, South Africa where he taught, directed and performed with the wonderful Cape Town Theater Sports group.

Taught by Mark Sutton, Saturday, 1pm-3pm, $50


This workshop focuses on the simple and yet sometimes terrifying act of truly committing during an improv scene. Too often improvisers don't give themselves completely over to the moment for fear that it might hold them back from exploration, or discovery when in fact it is only by fully committing to the unknown that you can completely free yourself in the scene. This workshop will help you focus on the scene's most simple elements, and be more "in the moment" than you’ve ever been before. And once you're truly in the moment…nothing else really matters.

Mark Sutton is one of the most respected and sought after teachers in improvisation today. He is a founding member of Chicago's legendary ANNOYANCE THEATER and, for 10 years, was the Theater's managing director. Mark is on the faculty of THE ANNOYANCE and is a former faculty member of The Second City, and has been a featured instructor at comedy festivals across the United States and Canada for the last 16 years where he often performs with Joe Bill in the two man comedy BASSPROV. He helped develop the aggressive, personal power style of improvisation pioneered by Mick Napier at The ANNOYANCE. Mark’s direct, personal style of teaching has inspired and enlightened thousands of students during his 25 year career. In addition to acting and teaching, Mark has served 6 times as the Artistic Director of the Chicago Improv Festival.

Taught by ImproTOP, Saturday, 3:30pm-6pm, $50


ImproTop is known the world-over for their trademark Physical Improv Style. This year, two of their Artistic Directors will be in from Mexico City to teach their take on several physical theater techniques such as mime, clowning, invisible object manipulation, spacework and object body creation. Don't miss your chance to learn this unique method on how to fill an empty space not only with your acting and improvisation skills but with your whole body.

Mexico City's ImproTOP is the most accomplished and famous improvisational ensemble in all of Mexico. This is their third year in a row at CIF, and they were one of the stand out hits during their last two years at CIF as they recieved critical raves and standing ovations. In Mexico, they have their own theatre, their own training center and they have been on Mexican television several times. Everyone in the company makes their living as actors and they have been performing improvisation together for over 10 years. During that time, they developed their own forms and style of improvisation that is rooted in physical comedy and story. It was their their physical/clowning style of improvising that got them a lot of attention in Chicago during CIF, so this year they wanted to teach this workshop. This is the first time international improvisers have ever taught a workshop at CIF. For this workshop, please wear clothes that you can move freely in.

Taught by Susan Messing, Saturday, 10am-12pm, $50


Susan Messing, a NJ native and graduate of Northwestern University's Theatre School, is an alumna of the iO, Second City's Mainstage, and a founding member of Chicago's infamous Annoyance Theatre. She is the creator of the Level two curriculum @ iO, and continues to teach at The Annoyance, Second City, and around the country. Susan is an adjunct instructor for DePaul University. Her standup act with her puppet, Jolly, was featured at the HBO/US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, and on Comedy Central's Premium Blend and NBC's Late Fridays, and her most impressive bit movie role was as a bad stripper in a halo brace in Let's Go to Prison! Susan has been an improviser and comedian for over twenty five. years. Chicago Magazine called her "Funniest Woman in Chicago," Chicago Reader has named her "Best Improviser" and she is the recipient of The Chicago Improv Festival's "Improviser of the Year." You can see her fuck around every Thursday night in her critically-acclaimed show, Messing with a Friend, now in its 6th year at The Annoyance Theatre.

Please note, all workshops are non-refundable and non-transferrable. All teachers are as currently scheduled and subject to change.