Tickets for the Tampa Bay Improv Festival are on sale! This year, weekend passes are $50, which includes access to every show Thursday-Saturday night. Single night passes are available, too.
When you come to TBIF, you can expect to check in at the Box Office and get your festival wristband. Parking is easily accessible right outside the Sunshine Center in downtown St. Pete, where the festival will be held in their 135 seat theater. Also, the Silent Auction and Art Show will be going on in the Sunshine Center lobby all weekend, featuring goods and prizes donated from local businesses, restaurants, and theaters like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 4 Rivers Smokehouse, Unscripted Theatre, American Stage, and many others. Twenty-five percent of all silent auction and art sale proceeds go to benefit Pinellas County Career Academies of Seminole. We're also sponsored by Coppertail Brewing this year, who will be providing us with craft beer available in the lobby with other refreshments for a small donation.
This year also features our best lineup of workshops to date. Nine world-class improv instructors are converging on the scene to bring local and festival improvisers unique ways to up their game and dig into the art form. Workshops run Saturday in 3 blocks (10a-12p, 12p-2p, 2p-4p). You can buy tickets to workshops while seats are open, but hurry - 2 of them are already sold out! Workshops are open for up to 16 participants each and will take place around the corner from the Sunshine Center in the classrooms at American Stage.
Finally, festival patrons can take advantage of the festival rate at Hollander Hotel now through Oct 31st! Hollander Hotel is situated smack in between Sunshine Center and American Stage, giving festival goers an easy walk between all festival sites and the incredible downtown St. Pete nightlife and arts scene. Festival after parties will start around 11p, immediately following the final show of each night held at the Hollander Hotel restaurant and bar. Performers will receive a drink special on spirits with their festival badge and there will be a late-night menu for folks hungry after all the shows!
This year's festival kicks off at 6P Thursday, Nov 17th with performance from Unscripted Theatre's Equanimity, followed by American Stage's resident team, Hawk & Wayne. You can even more information about this years festivities by clicking here or get tickets by clicking the button below!
A little over four years ago in September, my teammates and I at Post Dinner Conversation were part of a jam in Ybor City hosted by local Tampa improv company, The Box. A lot of local improvisers were there - more than we knew existed - and we got a major hit of inspiration.
We thought, "Someone should do a bigger version of this, like, a weekend thing, with teams from all over the state."
We were super green improvisers at the time with less than a year under our belt, though like many, were crazy about this new art form we'd found. We'd only been to Sarasota Improv Festival earlier that summer, which was a behemoth of an event compared to our weekly coffee shop shows in Tampa. When my roommate Murphy Barthe and I got home from the jam, we stayed up until about 3AM brainstorming the Tampa Improv Festival.
We gave ourselves 1 month to plan and execute the whole thing. In short, we were out of our minds. Looking back now, I realize it was sheer will and stupidity that carried us into a successful first year, worrying 'round the clock for 30 days and going without sleep for most of it as I worked on organizing the details late at night after work.
I looked at as many improv festival websites as I could - including Gainesville Improv Festival, Out of Bounds, and North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival - and set the wheels in motion. I payed attention to the way other festivals worked to put butts in seats, advertised their shows and workshops, and set up their schedules. I adopted a few submission forms, using intuition and guesswork to put the pieces together and make it look like we knew what we were doing. That was something I learned well from doing improv and all that I felt I needed to really know to get the ball rolling.
Two days after the initial conversation, Warren Buchholz put together a website and logo, I created an event plan, contacted Micheal Murphy at Silver Meteor Gallery, and shot out our first team submission application on Facebook.
The first week, we got no submissions. I almost pulled all of my hair out and couldn't sleep.
By the second week 12 teams had submitted. Shortly after releasing our 11 team lineup for that first year, SAK Comedy Lab's Richard Paul and Third Thought's Patrick McInnis reached out and offered to teach workshops at the festival. The weekend arrived, all three nights of shows drew a good sized audience, filling Silver Meteor with the most largest improv audiences it had seen in many years. American Stage's Hawk & Wayne served as the first headliners, backed up by then Improv Boston's Artistic Director Will Luera (now Florida Studio Theatre's Director of Improv in Sarasota) with his team Big Bang, as well as teams from Orlando, Miami, Boca Raton, New York, and our own backyard.
We were small but mighty the first year, not able to do much advertising or outreach, but the community that formed around the festival had a blast hanging out and learning more about each other - many of them for the very first time. With a year to plan better, the second Tampa Improv Festival moved locations to Tampa Pitcher Show, a sizable dine-in movie theater in the Carrollwood neighborhood where host company Post Dinner Conversation (now Tampa Bay Improv) had built a small cabaret stage in the lobby for weekly shows and workshops. That year, the festival was expanded to 9 workshops and over 30 shows, welcoming new teams from Philadelphia, New Orleans, Boston, Chicago, and Atlanta, and all over Florida. Piggy-backing off a deal already made by Brokenmold Entertainment for the same weekend, Upright Citizens Brigade TourCo was added as a headliner in the last minute and Level Talent Group out of South Tampa sponsored a party bus to take performers from the venue in North Tampa to Ybor City for the show.
After closing doors at Tampa Pitcher Show, Post Dinner Conversation moved to a smaller venue, so the festival moved back to Silver Meteor Gallery, which had undergone much needed renovations. Planning for a bigger audience and performer pool than the previous year, festival staff spent extensive time the week before preparing the space. The outdoor area surrounding the theater was shaped with a lounge area, merchandise booth, cafe bar, sign wall for all performers, and a large green room to accommodate the 200 some performers attending the festival. SAK Comedy Lab was picked up as a main sponsor, and Aly San Juan created an initiative to interview every performer after their show to document the festival and create a short promo documentary for the next year. In total, 35 teams and 4 workshops wowed over 300 Tampa residents, adding teams from Kansas City, Savannah, Austin, and the San Francisco/Philly mashup, Bicoastal. Every show and workshops sold out, including the live recording of Improv Nerd with legendary chicago improv artist, Jimmy Carrane. That week, Creative Loafing ran their first comedy issue in history, featuring the Tampa Improv Festival as their main story.
This year has already brought major upgrades. The festival has been rebranded as the Tampa "Bay" Improv Festival, proudly representing the Bay area. Jumping over the bay and working in conjunction with American Stage Education, TBIF will feature a slew of workshops from out of town instructors and is proud to welcome Groundlings' Nick Armstrong and Upright Citizens Brigade's Amey Goerlich as this year's headliners in downtown St. Petersburg.
Submissions for Tampa Bay Improv Festival 2016 close August 31st. You can submit your team or workshop through The Improv Network by clicking here.
Maybe you're an improv coach or teacher in your local area and you're interested in sharing those skills at the next festival you go to. Maybe you also want to help pay for your trip with the money you make from teaching. Teaching a workshop at a festival is a great idea for gaining experience working with folks who have training, are already performing, and come from all over the country. That said, a lot of festivals struggle to fill their workshops, especially the ones offered by relatively unknown instructors. Here's a few things to think about when submitting a workshop to a festival. It's a really good idea to create an account on The Improv Network and get yourself some testimonials from students to help the production team see that you've got solid credentials.
1. Make it sexy.
Festivals are the place for people to get more than what they can get at home. Most performers at a festival will sign up for a workshop if it promises something new - a new take on an old form, a fresh idea they've never heard of, a new concept that applies to any scene. Other popular workshops focus on a single facet of performance or a single skill, such as vulnerability, character, scene starts, or group games. A creative, yet to-the-point title helps catch people's attention and a well-written, concise, and detailed description gets them to sign up. You may also want to include what kind of experience performers need to have to excel in the workshop (i.e., beginner, intermediate, advanced, no experience, long form stage time, etc). Telling people how the workshop works, how they'll be challenged, and what they'll learn makes all the difference. It's not about overselling the idea, it's about articulating what you'll be teaching with precision so people are prepared going into the workshop.
2. Less talk, more do.
Some of the greatest teachers in the improv world spend a good portion of their workshop just talking through ideas. They can do that - they have boundless wisdom to share from their earlier days creating the improv world. Newer teachers do their best work by not talking the whole time, planning the workshop well so performers are engaged from start to finish, and setting aside some time at the end for any questions. It's also a good idea to tell performers how their workshop fits in with different styles of improv, when to use the skills being built, and how to find more information. Leave participants with your contact information so they can stay in touch or ask any questions that come up later. Who knows - they may want to bring you in for a workshop at their home theater or with their team.
3. Improvise the workshop.
Since you never know who is going to sign up for your workshop, it's helpful to ask people what kind of experience they have at the start of the workshop. Having everyone close their eyes and raise their hands as you list the number of years experience is an easy way to do this. It may be that some folks have a lot of experience and some have very little. It may also be that the folks with little experience are extra-challenged by what you or veteran players would think of as simple or basic activities. Don't be afraid to improvise the workshop or call an audible on some of the planned exercises to better serve the performers who've showed up. That might mean you don't get through everything or that you have to slightly shift the focus of the whole workshop. That's alright - better that performers leave the workshop with something valuable that empowers them to do more improv and keep working on their craft at home rather than working through your plan but not being able to grasp the concepts or reach the outcomes you typically get.
Workshops are one of the best things about any festival and teaching one can make you fee like you've really had a hand in making the festival experience what it is. Not getting accepted right away doesn't necessarily mean you should stop submitting - it just means that the producers had other needs or options that year. If you do get accepted to teach, its also great to take other workshops at the festival. It signals that you can never stop learning when it comes to improv, and you may even get the chance to perform alongside some of the folks who were in your own workshop. Breaking down the walls between teacher and performer isn't just a great aspect of improv culture, it's necessary to keep pushing the art form and inspiring others to keep pushing themselves as artists!
Want to submit your workshop to Tampa Bay Improv Festival 2016? You can do so on The Improv Network by following this link.
We love more than just improv - since the beginning of our festival, we've developed new art every year. This year, we want to see what YOU got. The TBIF Poster Contest is underway, giving one lucky local artist a chance to win $100 cash, 2 VIP weekend passes, and their art featured in print and online as the official poster of the festival!
It's easy to sign up and submit your art! Click the button below for all of the specs and when you're ready, send us what you got! YOU could be the winner. The deadline for submissions is August 19th!
All festivals are different. Lots of them specify what kind of festival they are and lots don't. For some, the kinds of teams they're looking for depends on the kinds of improv that are done in the region and what the local audience expects. For others (like TBIF), the whole idea of a festival is to cultivate an eclectic mix of long form improvisers who push the boundaries and alter the traditions of the art form.
Before you submit to any festival, you want to do your research. That means checking into how much it might cost to, say, take your 12 person improv team to that festival TJ & Dave are going to be headlining, whether it's reasonable to make your duo partner travel overseas just so you can teach a 2 hour workshop, or whether your short form team that dresses up like the cast of CATS is going to match well with the other teams that are typically featured at the festival. Here's a few tips about what to look into before submitting your team:
1. Can you really make it?
No producer appreciates it when someone says they're coming and they pull out last minute. It does happen (probably more than you think), and chances are those groups won't be invited back the following year, no matter how good their submission video. Make sure you're free for the entire festival before you submit. Some festival applications ask your availability, but if not, don't assume that you'll be slotted for a Friday or Saturday show, especially if it's your first time at that festival.
2. Size really does matter.
The size of your teams can make a big difference when submitting to some festivals because some producers rely on the performers to be the primary audience for the festival and students for workshops. There are festivals out there that only accept 5-8 person teams. There are festivals that only accept 2-3 person teams. Typically, a duo will get passed up over a bigger group simply because it means more people will be coming. That said, some festivals have venues that can't fit more than a 5 person team so they pass on the 8 person groups. Beyond all of the variables on the production side, it can be difficult to move a team of more than 4 people halfway across the country (or even a few hours away), especially on time and in good spirits. The most solid submissions come from teams of 4 people who are listed in the application and are the same people who will actually be in the show. Adding on 1 or 2 players a week or so before the deadline is usually not a big deal, but it's always best to ask as far in advance as possible. Equally so, promising 6 players and showing up with 2 or 3 can cost the festival money, so try not to blindside people if you can help it.
3. Show don't tell.
There's always a bunch of stuff that you're asked to submit if you want to appear at a festival. That's because the producers want to do their best to promote and create hype for your show, which in turn helps the festival. Before you submit your team, it's a good idea to make sure you have a few things ready to go - a logo, a team photo, a short (3 sentence) bio that doesn't try to make your team sound funny or super special, a improviser-friendly description of your show with needed tech specifications (for the people evaluating film), and team member headshots and bios that takes themselves seriously. Having all of these things ready to go means that you can submit to any festival easily and signals to the producers that you're experienced enough to perform at a festival. Sites like The Improv Network are great resources for storing all of your info online and submitting to hundreds of festivals with just one click. If your applying as an instructor, you can keep your bios on there, too. Always best to have a few tried and true 2 hour workshops about your specialties as a teacher on-hand and ready to submit along with your team...that is, if you're really an improv teacher at home.
4. Keep calm and be real people.
Festivals are so much more than the 20-45 minute performance slot and 2 hour workshop you might take or teach. The majority of the time, your team will be around other festival goers, teams, and instructors - including a few improv legends that everyone has heard of because they've read their book. The folks that have the best experience are the ones that mingle, mix it up, go with the flow, and find themselves talking at a table with a grab bag of improvisers from other groups by the end of the night. Attaching to the hip of your teammates can (and often does) lead to a bad attitude about the festival and a less-than-fun time for everyone you're around. Great festival teams are made up of up-beat people who like to engage, are grateful for the work put in to make the festival happen, and are able to talk about life as much improv.
5. Do your part.
Festival production teams often don't get to see any of the shows at their own festival and they're luck if they get to take workshops. There's a lot happening behind the scenes that requires their attention at all times during the weekend. That means part of the responsibility of the festival performers is to literally make the festival a festival. That means going to as many shows as they can, taking workshops (even if they're teaching a workshop), hanging out at the after party, helping muggles understand what's going on and what improv is all about, and even pitching in to stack a few chairs. Also, it's helpful to be mindful (and help others be mindful) that good Saturday morning workshops are hardly possible if everyone is hungover! Keeping yourself, your team, and your fellow festival performers safe, healthy, and at the top of their intelligence only makes the whole experience better for everyone.
Teams that follow these simple guidelines will be welcome at any festival because they show that our art form - our community - takes itself seriously, is all grown up, and wants to bring the joy we share to the larger public. That said, the best way to learn how to do festivals and get the most out of them is to go to as many as possible, even if you're not performing. Take your team, make a weekend out of it, and know that when the time comes, you'll be ready to blow up the stage together!
Think your team fits at Tampa Improv Festival? Submissions are open until August 31st, 2016.
You can submit on The Improv Network by clicking here!
Florida is fast becoming a hot bed of improv theaters and festivals, pushing the art form into the next generation by welcoming artists from all over the country throughout the year. With Miami, Sarasota, Tampa Bay, and Gainesville touting festivals, Palm Beach is throwing their hat in the ring with a brand new festival kicking off this September 8th-11th, with 16 performances and 12 instructors. The festival is being launched at The Rep Theater in West Palm Beach.
Festival Producer and founder of Improv U and Business Casual Anthony Francis thinks that improvisers should "lead with love," which is Improv U's mantra. "Every decision we make has to come from that, and when we thought about what the community needed and what we would love to do, a festival just made sense. The community here is growing and it would only strengthen the communities around us." Francis thinks that the best festivals feature workshops by great instructors and give people from all over the country a chance to mix it up, chill and talk to each other. "We come to learn and perform, but also to meet other people in our small and mighty community. It has to have social time. I'm Italian so I like a big long dinner table where everyone eats family style. I want to walk away from a festival feeling like I am a small part of a bigger family."
This year features heavy hitters Asaf Ronen, whose book Directing Improv is essential for new instructors, and long time improv teacher and past Second City touring member, T.J. Mannix. With casts coming from all over (and a brunch!), PBIF is a great fit with the other Florida improv festivals, bringing both the new faces and strong presence of West Palm Beach to the forefront of the state scene. "The community has asked for more and we feel it will only strengthen the community and bring us all closer together," Francis says. "What sets us a art is our location. A good meeting point for Tampa, Orlando, and Miami to meet and connect in a cozy and intimate setting. I hope our festival is similar to others in the fact that people will walk away with new techniques and perspectives on this art form and new friends." All of us at Tampa Bay Improv Festival hope for the same and are super excited to welcome another team into the improv festival family in the state.
Interested in learning more about PBIF? Click here!
There's still time to submit your team for Tampa Bay Improv Festival - submit your team or workshop now!
A lot of improvisers love festivals. Most include hours and hours of shows, top notch workshops from instructors you don't normally get to work with, and after parties where people who were strangers a day ago do bits, crack each other up, share their insights, and become good friends. Improv festivals are great places to meet other like minded players from all over the place, share in the joy of the art, and learn new tricks to bring back home. Yet some people might feel intimidated by the idea of a festival - the nerves of performing in front of strangers, the exhaustion of traveling to a new place, and of course the cost of submitting, taking workshops, eating out, and lodging.
Most producers of improv festivals know that it takes a lot for folks to come out to their festival and they do their best to make the trip as easy, affordable, and exciting as possible. Coming from people who love improv festivals, have almost no money, and have both hosted and traveled to a bunch of them, here's a few reasons why we think you should start submitting to more festivals:
1. It will make you a better player.
Performing at a festival is different than performing on your home stage. Chances are you won't know the audience - there may be players from other cities or improv "muggles" who've never seen a show in their life. Feeling what it's like to play for them can give you a totally different perspective about the way you play. Even if there's only 3 people in the audience for your 6p Wednesday night show, that's 3 people who you get to experience something with that's not your typical show. If you take workshops, you also get the chance to mix with performers you've never played with and learn from them. Trying out a new form or exercise with people you've never met is both exhilarating and refreshing because it shows that you don't have to know about someone to know them on stage. Finally, watching the great performances of little known groups from who-knows-where and headliners from the Big Improv cities can reignite the desire to do more improv that you felt when you stated.
2. Your friends are waiting for you.
Festivals cultivate a sense of belonging and community just like the best improv theaters do. After a few days of watching shows, taking workshops, grabbing food, having drinks, doing bits, chatting about this and that, wandering around the area and looking up people on Facebook, festival performers can feel like they've known each other for a long time. That means they're likely to stay in touch well after the festival, sharing improv thoughts, pictures, and information all year until the next one. It just so happens that the same core groups of people tend to attend the same festivals every year, so going once means meeting people you'll see again and again. There's nothing like having the kind of friends that will let you jump on their back, make faces at you for fun, or follow you down the rabbit hole of the dirtiest joke you've ever told all over the world.
3. There's no place like home.
A lot of people like to call a festival their "home away from home", especially if they've been performing at it since it started. The longer people keep going to the same festivals, the more you get to watch people grow as both performers and people. You might notice that couple from across the country is married now; that guy from that awesome Austin team last year is here with a whole new team he started in Ohio; that girl you hung out with on Saturday night 2 years ago is now teaching a workshop; the instructor for the first workshop you ever took is the headliner this year...and so on. There's a greater improv community out there of like-minded people who have more in common than what they do on stage. They come from every big city and small town where the idea of finding truth in comedy branched out and motivated people to get up, act like someone else, and yes...and. Festivals are like a wormhole to the center of the improv universe.
Take our word for it and submit to a festival ASAP. You can find one in your neck of the woods all year long by visiting The Improv Network.
Submit to Tampa Improv Festival 2016 by clicking here!
Up to this year, Tampa Bay Improv Festival has been a small, mighty endeavor. We haven't needed much to make our festival one of the best in the South. The older we get, the bigger we seem to get, and the more public attention we're getting.
It also means that the expectations are bigger for top-notch headliners, specialty acts, better performer accommodations, and larger venues. That costs money - more than we actually make off our festival.
The Tampa bay improv scene is still in it's infancy, but it's growing at a supercharged rate! Each year our audience size jumps by a few hundred attendees, which means we're getting more exposure as one of the hottest new festivals in the region. In fact, in 2013 we won Creative Loafing's Best of the Bay award for Best Performing Arts Festival and last year Creative Loafing's first Comedy Issue released the week of the festival and made us their feature story.
Small businesses like Tampa Pitcher Show, theaters like SAK Comedy Lab, and larger organizations like Camp Improv Utopia have had our back by sponsoring us, along with a great deal of donors and patrons that want to see TBIF grow. In this 4th year of our festival, we need more help than ever before from local businesses, corporations, and individual patrons.
If you think your company might be interested in becoming a sponsor, you can download our Sponsorship Packet below with all of the information about sponsor-tiers, as well as what you'll receive in return. There's lots of options, from smaller $100 contributions to larger $5000 contributions. Sponsors get the most from their money with tickets, advertising, and free workshops or private shows from Tampa Bay Improv community All Stars.
Donors are able to submit their support on our website by clicking the "Help Us!" tab and making their donation online in just a few seconds. TBIF is hosted by Post Dinner Conversation, Tampa Bay's 501(c)3 charity, which means your donation is tax-deductible and goes to ensure that TBIF continues to spread the word about all of the improv classes, workshops, and shows at the three local theaters. It also ensures that we can feature all of our local improv teams in Tampa Bay and that we continue to bring in world-class instructors from New York, Chicago and LA who educate and enrich our local performers.
A lot of festivals have different procedures and requirements for submissions. Like many of them, TBIF makes it simple by using The Improv Network submission tool. Not only does it make the process simpler but a small portion of each team's submission fee goes to helping the greater improv community. One of the nice things about submitting this way is that all of your team's information (and all of your instructor information) is saved in one place. So if you submit to TBIF, you're all see to submit to any other festival with one click. Here's how it works:
Click this link and you'll be taken to the Visitors page where you can input all of your personal information. Click "Complete Sign Up" at the bottom of that screen and you'll be taken to your Profile page where you can create a listing for your Troupe.
Make sure you include all of the Personal and Troupe information it asks for, including a logo, photo, short and long bio, and a video of a single show in front of a live audience no longer than 15 minutes. The video, logo and bio is crucial to your being accepted to any festival. The video must be in front of a live audience. Please, no promo reels!
Finally, find Tampa Bay Improv Festival on the list (or click here) and you'll be taken to the screen where you can submit your Troupe. Select the Troupe from the list. Once you submit you'll be prompted to pay the submission fee. After you pay, you'll receive a confirmation and you'll be redirected to The Improv Network. Make sure you wait for that redirect so your payment is processed.
That's it! You can always check on the status of your acceptance by returning to your profile. People interested in submitting themselves as an instructor can do so through the submission form after they've made a Teacher profile on The Improv Network.
TBIF submissions close August 31st, 2016. All accepted teams and instructors will be notified no later than 2 weeks after the submission deadline. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact the TBIF production staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Help build the Tampa Bay Improv community by submitting your teams to the Tampa Bay Improv Festival and let's make it the best one yet!"
That's a message from our good friend Darryl Knapp, Tampa Bay's own "Mayor of Improv." Darryl performs weekly at Florida Studio Theater in Sarasota and each season at The Box in Tampa. He's been performing in Tampa Bay for over 15 years and part of TBIF since it all started back in in 2012.
Last year, Shrey Neil and Robert Houttuin from American Stage's house team As Per Usual talked to us a right after their show. Check out a clip from their Spotlight Interview below!
Submissions for Tampa Bay Improv Festival are open until August 31st, 2016. Teams and instructors will be notified of their acceptance no later than Wednesday, September 14th, 2016. Shows will be held Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night starting at 6p with all workshops on Saturday starting at 10am. More information about theater location, lodging, and transportation coming soon and will be in acceptance emails.
Instantly submit your team or workshop by clicking here.