Washington Improv Theater’s ‘Improv-o-matic’ at Artomatic on June 15th & 22nd by Sean Ellis and Rachel Grossman

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The decision was a quick and easy “Yes, and Yes” Washington Improv Theater (WIT) would coordinate improv performances, and it would also create space for others to perform at Artomatic 2012. After all: WIT and Artomatic are a perfect match.

John Windmueller and Xavier Hernandez on June 1, 2012 at Improv-o-matic. Photo courtesy of Washington Improv Theater..

For over thirteen years, WIT has dedicated itself to unleashing the creative power of improv in DC through performances, classes, and corporate trainings. “Improv helps us break through – into who we are, and into the potential of who we can be, all together,” recently remarked WIT’s Artistic/Executive Director Mark Chalfant. Artomatic has also been a tremendous resource to breaking down barriers in the DC metro area for artists, arts-enthusiasts, and the arts-tentative among us. “Cracking open potential through art is an underlying philosophy of Artomatic,” noted WIT’s Managing Director Rachel Grossman. “This is the perfect opportunity to bring the artform for everyone–improv–to the arts festival for everyone–Artomatic,”

And so Improv-o-matic was born.

'The Lodge' at on June 1, 2012 at Improv-o-matic. Photo courtesy of Washington Improv Theater.

Each Improv-o-matic show consists of four local improv troupes, affiliated in various ways with WIT, who rehearse and perform regularly throughout DC. Improv-o-matic shows are emceed by a local comedian, and conclude by giving audience members the opportunity to join performers on stage in an improv jam. “Improv-o-matic is a great way for us, at WIT, to offer something that engages the audience, and complement Artomatic’s already stellar programming,” says Sean Ellis, a Virginia-based improv performer and director who co-organized the series.The improv jam is intended to encourage the audience to learn more about long form improv at WIT first-hand: by playing. “We definitely had a few audience members push their friends on stage, but by that point the threshold to participate is pretty low. Everyone is game to join in. It’s a lot of fun to watch,” commented Ellis.

Improv-o-matic features longform improv, WIT’s specialty, which emphasizes the development of narrative, theme, and character relationships by the improvisers. Every show is completely unscripted, with players typically working within a general framework and drawing ideas and inspiration from the audience to build the performance. Under the artistic direction of Mark Chalfant, WIT performs regularly at Source (14th and T Street NW) and holds classes at CentroNia (14th and Columbia NW).

Matt Winterhalter and Aaron Mosby on June 1, 2012 at Improv-o-matic. Photo courtesy of Washington Improv Theater

WIT performs Improv-o-matic on June 15th and 22nd from 8PM to 9:30PM on the People’s Stage (11th floor). Admission is FREE!

For more information visit washingtonimprovtheater.com or artomatic.org