CIF Productions' Education Outreach on Flickr, Vimeo

Update: 5/15/11
CIF Does Outreach With Prairie Arts Council

On Friday, May 13th, CIF Productions teamed up with the Prairie Arts Council located in Princeton, IL to do a full day of education outreach. The day began with 5 CIF improvisers performing a 30 minute set for the 12 teen improvisers, some of whom had traveled an hour to Princeton to participate. The 5 CIF improvisers then split the teens into two teams and taught them in a 75 minute improv workshop. After a dinner break, the 5 CIF improvisers guided the two teen teams in a 30 minute improv performance that was seen by a full house of Princeton citizens. Even when the final lights turned out, the teens some of whom started the day as strangers, were still improvising games amongst themselves on the steps of the Prairie Arts Council theatre. Linda Gustafason the co-director of the Prairie Arts Council said, "this whole day has exceeded our expectations and was truly wonderful".

Linda Gustafson also said, "As an educator of over 33 years, I understand the meaning of the concept of the 'teachable moment' and from the moment your actors took the stage, it was non-stop teachable moments!" She and the Prairie Arts Council have already requested a return trip from CIF Productions for another day of performances and workshops.

Performing and teaching for CIF Productions was Emily Dugan, Keith Habersberger, Adam Higgins, Lisa Ridarelli and Jay Sukow. The event was produced by CIF Productions Executive Director Jonathan Pitts, who also was the stage manager/light board operator for the shows.

Update: 4/4/11
All-State Improv Team to Perform at ComedySportz Chicago

CIF's Illinois All-State Improv Team is going to perform on Sunday, April 10th, 7pm @ ComedySportz Chicago, 929 W. Belmont Ave., as part of CSz' High School League Championship 2011.

The IASIT will be the opening act for the championship match. This will be the first time since the Illinois High School Theatre Fest in January of this year, that the team will perform together again. They will be directed by Caleb George.

This performance also serves as a warm-up for the IASTIT's upcoming performance as the headliners at CIF's Teen Comedy Fest which takes place on Saturday, May 7, @ Chicago Cultural Center.

Tickets for their performance at CSz are $5 and can be bought online at ComedySportz or over the phone at (773)549-8080

Update: 1/17/11
CIF's Ridge Park Theatre Camp's Sketchfest Show Rocks

The kids onstage in their first scene at Chicago Sketchfest.

CIF's theatre camp featuring 16 boys and girls, age 8-13, from Chicago's south-side, performed their own original 20 minute sketch show at Chicago Sketchfest, the nation's largest sketch festval. Their show went over very well to a full house of family, friends and other audience members.

The kids onstage in a scene with narrator Jameeleh Shelo.

It was interesting to hear and see which scenes played better on the north side vs. the south side and vice versa. The kids were proud of themselves to see that they can make an audience of north siders laugh and to play to people they didn't know.

The kids onstage in a scene called "Grandma's Hands."

They travelled 126 blocks in a bus donated by the theatre camp's co-producers the Chicago Park District to get to the theatre, Stage 773. Chicago Sketchfest's founder and producer Brian Posen said after their show, "It was really wonderful to have the kids there."

Most of the Ridge Park Theatre Camp kids and director Jonathan Pitts, after the kids had performed their show at Chicago Sketchfest.

Update: 1/11/11
CIF's Ridge Park Theatre Camp Ready To Play At Sketchfest

A veteran theatre camp cast of 16 boys and girls, ages 8-13, rehearsed for 4 1/2 hours this past Saturday in preparation for their upcoming Chicago Sketchfest show.

They will perform a 35 minute version of the same show they performed last August as part of CIF's Ridge Park Summer Theatre Camp. The show features sketch comedy, dancing, poetry and singing. Everything in the show was written by the kids themselves.

On-stage narration will be provided by Jameeleh Shelo and the remount is directed by Jonathan Pitts, with assistant direction from Lakesha Ratliffe and Jeremy Schaefer. The musical director is Matt Herzau and the stage manager is Dujuan Pritchett.

To see the schedule please click: Chicago Sketchfest
To purchase tickets, please click: Tickets

Update: 1/8/11
2011 All-State Team Played To 600 Peers

After a 4 hour rehearsal, the CIF 2011 All-State Improv Team performed a hilarious 75 minute set yesterday to an audience of 600 peers at the Illinois High School Theatre Fest. They did a 50 minute games set by themselves and then they played a 25 minute contest versus ComedySportz Chicago. Much to the surprise of the CSz players, the All-State Improv Team won the match over the improv pros.

ASIT co-director Emily Dugan (also the producer of CIF's Teen Comedy Fest) said about the kids' show, "I've been directing the ASIT for 4 years, and this was the ASIT best show so far!" She also went on to say that it really helped to have so many other talented improvisers sharing the teaching and directing process with her. ComedySportz Chicago's Chris DeRose said, "Those guys ROCKED!".

Lauren Matthews said about her first time in the ASIT, "That was probably the most fun I've had on stage. It ended much too abruptly but it makes the anticipation of May 7th (when they perform at Teen Comedy Fest) that much sweeter. OPRF-HS theatre teacher Patricia Cheney said, "FUN show last night! I know that the students who auditioned, performed and attended the show HAD a blast!!"

3 of the team's players are returning veterans from previous years. Of those, this is the third year in a row for Eric Iannelli ('09-'11), as he now ties the record of most ASIT appearances with Robert Leahy ('08-'10).

Update: 1/7/11
CIF's 2011 All-State Improv Team Players Selected

Congrats to CIF's 2011 All-State Improv Team, featuring Dylan Doetch, Lauren Frost, Eric Iannelli, Natasha Laws, Lauren Mathews, Tommy McCarthy, Brady Richter, Spencer Rose, Emma Smith, Emma Squier, Samuel Watchel, and Will Weckhorst. They were chosen from a field of 60 high school improvisers.

The CIF's 2011 All-State Improv Team is being co-directed by Teen Comedy Fest producer Emily Dugan and ComedySportz Chicago's Jamie Campbell, with assistance from CIF Production's Jonathan Pitts and Lisa Ridarelli as well as CSz's Chris DeRose, Caleb George, and Kristi Parker-Barnhart.

They will perform a 90 minute set tonight, 10pm-11:30pm, at the Great Hall of the Kranert Center on the University of Illinois campus as part of the 2011 Illinois High School Theatre Fest. The All-State Improv Team will play a 45 minute set by themselves, and then they will play an improv match against special guests ComedySportz Chicago in an improv battle royale.

Update: 12/20/10
Tickets On-Sale For STC's Show @ Chicago Sketchfest

Summer Theatre Camp in performance at Ridge Park (8/5/10).

Tickets went on sale for CIF's Summer Theatre Camp's upcoming performance in Chicago Sketchfest. The performance will feature a 35 minute remounted version of the show that they did this last summer. The show takes place on Saturday, January 15, 2011, 1pm, at Stage 773's North Stage. Stage 773 is located at 1225 W. Belmont Ave, in Chicago.

The show is written by 38 south-side children, ages 8-12 who also act, dance, do poetry, rap, and sing in the show, is narrated by Jameeleh Shelo. The show is co-directed by Jonathan Pitts & Tawny Newsome, musical directed by Matt Herzau, stage managed by Dujuan Pritchett, and production assistance by Lakesha Ratliff & Jeremy Schaefer.

Update: 12/14/10
"The Make 'Em Ups" Debuts @ Chicago South Side School

CIF Productions new educational outreach show, The Make 'Em Ups debuted today with two performances at Chicago's Sutherland Elementary and thus introduced improv to over 800 southside kids (K-8). One of the boys who watched it said, "this show is teaching me how to be a better actor". Another boy said, "this is a really cool show!"

The touring show features a 4 person improv group that teach kids the history of improv, as well as the main principles of improv, and gives examples of how and how not to do improv. After demonstrating some games, the kids get to play on-stage with the improv group.

The Make 'Em Ups was created and directed by CIF Executive Director Jonathan Pitts. The debut was performed by Brittany Davis, Mike Norris, Lisa Ridarelli and Alex Young.

For more info or to book a show, please click: The Make 'Em Ups

Update: 12/6/10
4th Annual All-State Improv Team Scheduled For IHSTF

The Illinois High School Theatre Fest has officially confirmed that CIF Productions will produce the 4th annual All-State Improv Team on Friday, January 7, 2011. Auditions will take place in the morning, rehearsals in the afternoon and the 2011 edition will perform in the evening.

CIF Executive Director Jonathan Pitts will produce the audition/rehearsal/performance, and TCF's Director Emily Dugan will direct it. The performance will take place at University of Illinois's Great Hall in the Krannert Center.

For more info, please click: IHSTF

Update: 8/9/10
STC Show Video Posted

The complete video of the 2010 Summer Theatre Camp performance at Ridge Park was posted online today on CIF Productions' Vimeo page.

To watch the video, please click: STC 2010

Update: 8/7/10
5th Annual STC Show A Hit!

The 2010 Summer Theatre Camp cast & crew shortly before the start of their show.

This year's edition of the Summer Theatre Camp's sketch show was a big hit, as the kids played to an enthusiastic audience of 150 family and friends. The show which was co-directed by CIF Executive Director Jonathan Pitts & Tawny Newsome (who also was the on-stage narrator) ran for approximately 50 minutes.

The So Sorry Sam Sunshine Revue, featured the kids performing comedy, dance, music, poetry, and rap, all of which made the audience laugh, cry, and whoop. After the show was over, it was officially invited to perform in the 2011 Chicago Sketchfest. The parents and kids roared their approval at the invitation.

Several parents said that this year's show was their favorite of all the STC shows they've seen. Assistant Director Lakesha Ratliff said that was one of the two best STC shows she'd worked on during the last 4 years.

5th year camper Dominque practicing her piano duet with musical director Jonathan Wagner.

Update: 8/1/10
Summer Theatre Camp Performance

It's time again for the end of camp performance of CIF Productions' 5th annual Summer Theater Camp. This year, we've had a record high 38 kids (ages 8-12) participate in the camp. Of the 38 children, half are returning campers. One girl, Dominque, is in her 5th year at the camp. So far, this has been one of the best years of CIF Productions' STC.

The show will be Thursday, August 5, 7pm @ Ridge Park Cultural Center (aka Chicago Park District building) located on the 2nd floor at 9625 S. Longwood Ave. The performance is free and will run about an hour long. The children wrote their own stories and poems, which we have turned into scenes and stories. They also sing, dance, and rap in the show too. And as if that's not enough, they also painted their own set/murals (one for each scene).

STC's director is Jonathan Pitts, STC's lead teacher is Tawny Newsome, STC's assistant teacher is Lakesha Ratliff, and STC's musical director is Jonathan Wagner. STC's guest artists included Lynn Jackson (visual arts) and Jameeleh Sheelo (writing). The 2010 Marv Fink Scholarship award winner is Peyton Ashford and this is her third year in the STC.

Update: 7/1/10
All-State Improv Team Video

CIF Productions has posted the video of the 2010 All-State Improv Team's performance at the 2010 Illinois High School Theatre Fest held at University of Illinois in Champaign, IL.

To watch the video, please click: All-State Improv Team Video

Update: 6/1/10
Storybox For Kids Video

CIF Productions has posted a video of a Storybox For Kids outreach performance from December 14, 2009. The show took place at a north suburban grammar school and there were over 200 kids in the audience.

To watch the video, please click: Storybox For Kids Video

Update: 1/15/10
All-State Improv Team Photos

To see photos from the day-long process (auditions, rehearsals, and two shows) of the 2010 All-State Improv Team at this year's Illinois High School Theatre Fest on 1/8/10, please click: ASIT Photos

Update: 1/9/10
Two Shows @ Illinois High School Theatre Fest

Emily Dugan, the 2010 All-State Improv Team, and The Improv Mafia

Last night, the All-State Improv Team played to over 500 people and had two great shows at the Illinois High School Theatre Fest. Their first show got a standing ovation. Improv Mafia rocked both of their shows and Emily Dugan was a fab emcee all night long. At the end of the second show, both the All-State Improv Team and The Improv Mafia jammed together on a big improv game of "Freeze". Both teams and the audience clearly had a blast. Cheers for everyone!

Update: 1/8/10
All-State Improv Team Announced

Co-directors Emily Dugan & Matt Ewell flank the 2010 All-State Improv Team

Here's the starting line-up for the Illinois 2010 All-State Improv Team: Mike Capra from Hersey HS, Chris Guidi from Farmington Central HS, John Hewelt, Eric Iannelli from Glenbard East HS, Eric Johnson from Homewood-Flossmoor HS, Ben Jungblut from Glenbard East HS, Natasha Laws from Maine Township HS East, Robert Leahy from Glenbard East HS, Jonathan Schaffer from Homewood-Flossmoor HS, Ben Slabik from Glenbard East HS, and Danielle Vetter from Schaumberg HS. Congrats to everyone!

Update: 1/4/10
The 3rd Annual All-State Improv Team

This Friday, January 8, 2010 will be the day for auditions, rehearsal and performances of the 3rd annual All-State Improv Team as produced by CIF Productions for the Illinois High School Theatre Fest in Bloomington-Normal, IL. There will be two audition time slots in the morning and the students will be selected by Teen Comedy Fest artistic director Emily Dugan and ComedySportz Chicago artistic director Matt Elwell.

After being selected, the 12 students will have rehearsals under the guidance of Emily and Matt, and in the evening, their will be two performances of the 12 students chosen for the All-State Improv Team. It's a crazy, fun and hectic day-long affair that has in just two years become a very popular event at the IHSTF. Last year's All-State Improv Team performed two shows for over 650 people. Illinois is the only state in America with an organized all-state improv team. Additionally, the All-State Improv Team will perform at CIF Productions' Teen Comedy Fest on May 15, 2010.

Auditioning 200 students in two hours is a difficult and fast endeavor that requires the help of many people. This year, extra eyes and hands will be provided by Illinois State University's The Improv Mafia and Kenny Metroff from Chicago's pH Productions. Please check this site for updates as when the students are selected, their names and high school/home town affiliation will be posted on this page.

The two All-State Improv Team performances will be at Illinois State University's Bone Student Center's Old Main Room in Bloomington-Normal, IL. Their performance times are 8pm and 10pm. Admission is free for fest attendees. For more information on the IHSTF, please click: IHSTF

Update: 7/28/09
Summer Theatre Camp Show

CIF Productions' 4th annual Summer Theatre Camp presents "Barack and Roll!", an original sketch comedy review written and performed by 35 African-American children, ages 8-12. The kids also designed the sets and costumes.

Their performance is Thursday, July 30, 7pm @ Ridge Park, 9625 S. Longwood. The show is free to the public and is co-produced and co-presented in partnership with the Chicago Park District.

Update: 7/20/09
Summer Theatre Camp Press Release


Chicago Improv Festival Productions' 4th Annual Chicago Park District Summer Theatre Camp will perform on Thursday, July 30 at 7 p.m. at the Ridge Park Cultural Center, 9625 S. Longwood. The six week long Summer Theatre Camp is made up of 35 children ages 8-12 years old who attend five days-a-week, five hours each day. The camp is directed by CIF's executive director, Jonathan Pitts with Barrel of Monkeys co-founder Jason Sperling as a co-teacher.

"During the six weeks the children learn acting, costume design, direction, improv, movement, theater vocabulary, set design, voice and writing," says Jonathan Pitts. "We treat the camp like a theater conservatory and it's a great chance to give South side children a high quality introduction and education in theater."

Co-teacher Jason Sperling adds, "The students are really creative and energetic, and they totally jump into the scenes and games we've been working on. It's great to not just see them grow as actors and performers, which they all have, but also to get to know them and see how they grow as people, even just over this six-week session. They look out for each other, work together, and make each other, and me, laugh a lot."

At the end of the camp, the children create an original 45-minute sketch comedy revue that reflects their world and gives them a voice in their community. This year's performance was chosen from more than 200 written stories, where 20 went into the rehearsal process. The students work together not only rehearsing and acting in the production, but also designing the sets and costumes.

The Chicago Improv Festival Productions' 4th Annual Chicago Park District Summer Theatre Camp performance is on Thursday, July 30 at 7 p.m. at the Ridge Park Cultural Center, 9625 S. Longwood. The performance is free and open to the public.

Update: 1/25/09
Congrats To The 2009 All-State Improv Team

Here are the names and high schools of the 12 members of this year's All State Improv Team.
Jillian Barron (Herrin HS); Matthew Coyle (Jersey Community HS); Michael DeMorco (Buffalo Grove HS); Justin Havlovic (Belvidere North HS); Eric Iannelli (Glenbard East HS); Robert Leahy (Glenbard East HS); Chelsea Meyer (Guilford HS); Heidi Olson (Monticello HS); Anna Beth Parcell (Herrin HS); Ben Slabitz (Glenbard East HS); Hattie Stein (Glenbard East HS); and Dylan Tramutolo. The 2009 All-State Improv Team was coached and co-directed by CIF's Teen Comedy Fest Artistic Director Emily Dugan and ComedySportz Chicago's Artistic Director Matt Elwell.

To see photos taken during the All-State Improv Team's performances at the Illinois High School Theatre Fest, please click: All-State Improv Team

Update: 1/5/09
The 2nd Annual "All-Fest Improv Team"

On Friday, January 9, CIF Productions' Executive Director Jonathan Pitts, CIF Productions' Teen Comedy Fest's Artistic Director Emily Dugan and ComedySportz' Artistic Director Matt Elwell will drive from Chicago to Normal, IL to put together the 2nd Annual "All-fest Improv Team" for the Illinois High School Theatre Fest.

Last year, over 200 high school theatre students auditioned for a slot on the team, and 14 students from 12 different high schools were chosen. They rehearsed for 4 hours and then performed a 45 minute show for 300 fest attendees. This year, there will be two shows for the "All-Fest Improv Team". The first will be on Friday night and the second will be on Saturday morning. The "All-Fest Improv Team" will also get an automatic headlining gig at CIF Productions' Teen Comedy Fest on May 3, 2009.

Talking about the program, Jonathan Pitts says, "We are really excited that last year's team was such a positive success. We are looking forward to auditoning, casting, and rehearsing the high school students towards another great show at the IHSFT. We really enjoy the experience of teaching and directing theatre students from all over the state of Illinois about this great art form. We're proud to put together the all-fest improv team for the IHSTF, as it is the only one of its kind in the country, and what better place for it to be in than the state that is the birthplace of modern improvisation."

Performing on Friday night with the "All-Fest Improv Team" will be CIF Productions' 2008 College Improv Tournament national champions The Improv Mafia from Illinois State University.

Photos and updates during the ISHTF weekend will be posted on this site.

CIF Productions' Educational Philosphy

Chicago Improv Festival Production's core philosophy is to educate and entertain audiences and students of all ages, demographics and locations; as well as to bring instruction and guidance to emerging improvisational artists and ensembles; by focusing on and about modern improvisational theatre, a Chicago-born and bred art form.

CIF instructor Tusime Jackson leads Chicago Park District children in an improv game.

The children respond and play along.

They all keep playing theatre games until it's time to go home.

For more information on the shows and workshops available from Chicago Improv Festival Productions, please click on the "Shows" & "Workshops" buttons at the top of this page.