Nov. 1: Improv comedy takes on Shakespearean themes at WSU

Shakespeare-logo-180PULLMAN, Wash. – Starting with just one audience suggestion, a title for a play that has yet to be written, the Improvised Shakespeare Company ( will create a fully improvised play in Elizabethan style at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1, in Daggy Hall’s Jones Theatre at Washington State University.

Proclaimed “mind-blowing,” “staggeringly brilliant” and “downright hilarious” by critics, the Improvised Shakespeare Company’s players have brushed up on their “thees” and “thous” to present an evening of off-the-cuff comedy using the language and themes of William Shakespeare.

Actors Blaine Swen and Ross Bryant. (Photo by Ari Scott)

Any hour could be filled with power struggles, star-crossed lovers, sprites, kings, queens, princesses, swordplay, rhyming couplets, asides, insults, persons in disguise and all that we’ve come to expect from the pen of the great bard.

Founded in 2005, the Improvised Shakespeare Company has been performing its critically-acclaimed show every Friday night at the world famous iO Theater in Chicago for more than seven years and continues to entertain audiences around the globe with its touring company.

Because the performances are entirely unscripted, the troupe’s rehearsals are designed to provide each player with a mastery of Elizabethan vocabulary and grammar and a firm grounding in the philosophical underpinnings of the source material.

“I didn’t want us to be just a goofy representation of Shakespeare,” said founder Blaine Swen, who recently received his Ph.D. in philosophy, in an interview with the Chicago Tribune. “All of that stuff is funnier if it’s against the backdrop of authenticity. We wanted to have reference to a sun or a cave and have philosophical import; and then in the next breath, we can have a fart joke.”

The combination of low brow and high art has worked. Time Out Chicago calls the Improvised Shakespeare Company “smart, sophisticated (and) downright hilarious,” while the Chicago Tribune says “the show channels Monty Python as often as the Bard, and frequently with sly-witted results.”

The Improvised Shakespeare Company has been named Chicago’s best improv group by both the Chicago Reader and the Chicago Examiner and received a New York Nightlife Award for “Best Comedic Performance by a Group.” The troupe recently was honored by the Chicago Improv Foundation as its “Ensemble of the Year.”

Reserved seating costs $18 for adults, $14 for seniors (60+) and $9 for students and youth. Tickets may be purchased in advance at TicketsWest outlets, including online at, by phone at 800-325-7328 and at the Beasley Coliseum box office, open 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday. Additional fees apply to online and phone purchases. Same-day tickets may be purchased at the Daggy Hall ticket office beginning two hours before the performance.

Patrons can save 20 percent off regular ticket prices by buying their Improvised Shakespeare Company tickets as part of a WSU Performing Arts series subscription. This performance is included in the Main Stage Series, Fall Series and Full Series packages, which may also be purchased through TicketsWest. Discounts are also available to WSU Alumni Association members and groups of eight or more.

Learn more about WSU Performing Arts at




Gail Siegel, WSU Performing Arts, 509-335-8522,