What Is Improv?

“Improv” (also known as “Impro” – but we don’t like that is the vowel sound is all wrong) is short for Improvisation  – the art of creating theatre on the spot with no script. Improvised comedy involves creating hilarious unprepared scenarios,  usually built around written or shouted-out suggestions from the audience. As a result, every show is a unique, one-of-a-kind experience, giving the opportunity for the audience to effect the direction of the show.

Why Improv? Why don’t you put on plays like other drama companies?

Improv is often used by acting classes and workshops as a way to warm up your brain and body, and to step out of yourself and into a new character. That’s all very well and good, but we see it as the best performing art – combining acting, quick wits, movement and comedy to make a completely new show every time is more impressive than memorising a script (or sheet music or dance steps)…. right? Well, that’s just our opinion.

Can I join in?

Yes! Barcelona Improv Group was founded as a free weekly workshop that anyone could come along to and take part. With that in mind, we plan to always have free workshops or games sessions where anyone, regardless of skills, experience or background can come along, give it a go, learn something new and have some fun. Everything you need to become a good improviser can be learnt at the classes, but if you’ve never tried it before, we recommend you come to a workshop first to see what’s what. Or, if you’re less about learning and more about leaping up and trying, you could try coming to a Jam.

Is my English good enough?

Most of the people who join our workshops are native speakers of English from the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, Ireland, South Africa etc. However, we do have many workshoppers and performers from Spain, Portugal, Venezuela, the Netherlands, Sweden, Hungary, Turkey and more.If you can read this website without getting stuck on most of the language, you’re probably fluent enough to take part and have fun. Why not turn up to one session and decide for yourself?

Do you really make it all up? None of it is planned?

Honest, there’s no scripting, pre-planning, no clever jokes we slip in at special moments. It is all spur-of-the-moment, top-of-the-head thinking. For our shortform shows, the cast DO know which games we are going to play, and they DO know who they will be performing with before the show. However, once the game has begun and we’ve taken the audience suggestion, no one, including the actors on stage, know what will happen next.

How do you do it then?

How does a football team play well if they don’t know where the ball will be every minute of the game?  The answer is training. Through classes and workshops, we train ourselves to be open to any ideas thrown at us. We train to be quick-witted and to increase our reaction speed. We learn to become better actors, we practice the games to learn what we can do, and, most importantly, we learn to work as a team. Improv is all about everyone getting on the same page and working toward a common goal. More than any other form of drama, it’s teamwork and support that makes a good show. And all of this is learnable, by the way. Come to the workshops or intensive weekends and pick up the skills yourself.

What Is “Shortform” Improv?

“Shortform” Improv is the kind that most people know. Popularised by the TV show  “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” (UK and US versions), each show is divided into a series of little games and tasks. While everything is still completely improvised, the scenario is bound by rules that the MC  explains. For example, for the game “Madlibs”, performers carry a handful of quotes and lines written by the audience, and have say whatever is on their paper and fit it into the scenario. To see us at action in a shortform game called “Film Dub”, click on this link.

OK, so what’s “Longform” Improv?

“Longform” Improv is a bit more avant-garde and much more unpredictable. Unrestrained by the rules and scenarios of shortform, “Longform” tends to start with a single, solitary audience suggestion, which the performers expand and then explode in a 30 minute play. Characters are developed, and crazy things happen to them. A story grows  out of their relationships and predicaments… but no one knows what will happen next until the next line is said! Longform is a slower burn than the quickfire shortform shows, but it gives our performers a chance to show what they’re really capable of with their brains. Why not come along to a show and see what all the fuss is about?

I want to perform in a show!

That’s not really a question, but I’ll let it go. We run a series of Improv classes that will teach you the skills you need to get up there in front of a live audience and have them rolling around with laughter. In fact, all of the classes we run are designed towards producing an end-of-course show, where you can wow your friends and family with your new found skills.
The B.I.G. performance team has grown out of the workshops and classes. People who have attended frequently and shown potential, determination, and and skill have joined the performance team. Maybe you could be next!  If you mention to one of the teachers that you’d like to perform, we’d happily give you some pointers about what to improve and practice.

What’s a Great BIG Weekend?

It’s where the B.I.G instructors take whoever’s willing and disappear off to a beautiful villa, farm or beach somewhere in Catalonia for an intensive course in improvisation and creativity. Every Weekend is different, and could have sessions in music, cooking, laughter therapy, yoga, movement… They tend to be exhilarating, exhausting, and forge unforgettable bonds. We do, of course, give you time to relax, drink, and swim in the sea as well (though we don’t recommend all three at once). Find out more about the next Great BIG Weekend here.



Got any more questions? Don’t be embarrassed to ask us at info@barcelonaimprovgroup.com, and we’ll email you back with a response as soon as we can.

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