Attractions in Taiwan|Spontaneous Symphony: Exploring Improv in Taiwan

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Attractions in Taiwan|Spontaneous Symphony: Exploring Improv in Taiwan

One of Taiwan’s most exciting secrets in the entertainment world is its exploding improv theater scene.  In a country that balances its own identity in an evolving state of improvisational political ambiguity, it’s only fitting that improv has taken off with the electric vibe most akin to start-up culture.  Below are some of Taiwan’s improv performance teams and venues for audiences to check out: 

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Improv in Taipei

Formosa Improv Group (FIG) (福爾摩沙即興組合)

Founded in 2018, FIG is Taiwan’s first fully bilingual team in Taiwan.  Besides Taiwanese members, FIG’s current roster includes expats from around the world.  The performers switch effortlessly within scenes between English and Chinese, occasionally throwing in other languages to create a rainbow assortment of cultural styles.  FIG has hosted a domestic improv festival, performed joint shows with local groups, joined international festivals in Manila, and will be joining Singapore’s International Improv festival in September of 2024.  In addition, FIG facilitates applied improv workshops for schools, organizations, and companies. Monthly shows are held at Two Three Comedy, Taipei’s go-to location for stand-up comedy, as well as weekly Monday bilingual workshops at the same venue. Participants need only pay the price of one drink to join the workshop.

(Photo・Jeffrey Schwab)

“Our workshops don’t require participants to have any previous improv experience, they just need to bring on that “yes, and” spirit.” FIG member, Diana Liu

FIG’s Facebook
FIG’s Instagram
Two Three Comedy Club Address: Taipei City, Zhongshan District, Linsen N Rd, 286號B1

GUTS Improv (勇氣即興劇場)

As the group with the longest running history, Guts Improv is the only group with its own dedicated theater.  With 2024 marking Guts 20th anniversary, Guts is an extremely strong improv brand within Taiwan, providing YouTube and online podcasts, blogs, training classes, coaching, and corporate workshops.  Although the performances and classes are primarily in Chinese, the level of improv is top-notch, and professionalism is emphasized, with each member honing their skills through layers of local and international theater experience.  

(Photo・Jeffrey Schwab)

“Members of Guts are professionally trained performers where we rely on improv theater to make a living–something that separates us from other Taiwanese groups. Our mission is to be the driving force unleashing Taiwanese creative confidence using Improv. We are a professional theater company with a core team that provides improv-related services, including improv performances, workshops, applied improv training, one-on-one improv coaching, and content creation for improv social media. In Taiwan, more than 90%, of the members of the island’s homegrown improvisational troupes first came into contact with improvisational theater through our workshops. ” Guts Executive Director, Hsiao-Hsien Wu(吳效賢).

Quote from Jonathan Pitts, founder of Global Improv Walkabout: Www.globalimprovwalkabout.com: Unlike most improv groups in America, GUTS Improv is a majority female ensemble. Their performers are super talented, very committed, quite smart, and they do all styles of improv, from short-form games to long forms, to experimental pieces. I think they have some world class talent and I wish many other international improvisers and audiences worldwide could see them because they are that good. 

Ok Improv(Ok 的即興工作室)

Established in 2012, Ok Improv (OK 即興)is another fully Taiwanese improv group with a dozen years of collective experience.  With the mission to promote improvisational theater throughout Taiwan and spread improv’s message, Ok Improv has been living up to their promise.  Ok Improv’s style could be described as brisk, funny, with more of a focus on short-scenes.  They emphasize a spirit of freedom without restrictions during their performance, with both the performers and the audience coming with an attitude that “everything will be OK!”  Ok Improv normally performs at “Comedy Plus,” but also tries different venues. Like FIG, each performance is produced by a different member of the group, so audience members should expect a totally different feeling depending on who is directing.

(Photo・Jeffrey Schwab)

“There are currently 17 group members, with only myself being fully devoted to improv performance.  The other group members come from different backgrounds and bring their rich personal experiences to the performances.”  95塊(Stage name)

Recent performance: https://www.accupass.com/event/2403260905131637003360

Thrilling Improv Troupe (歡顛製作)

This group is either the “dark horse” or the “hidden angel” amongst Taipei’s improv scene.  Founded in 2021, members of Thrilling Improv met one another while taking improv classes with Guts. Through the learning process, members connected and used inspiration from classes to start their own Chinese language performance group.  As with OK Improv, Thrilling performs primarily at Comedy Plus.  They currently perform only once every six months, honing their craft, and working on forms that combine elements of Taiwanese soap operas, playful short-form, and life-inspired long form improv.

(Photo・Jeffrey Schwab)

“The abbreviation for our group, TIT, is intentional, as we hope to bring performances that are both joyful and subversive in imagination. Our shows are no-holds-barred and high-energy.” (TIT member, Oreo)

“You can relax, and enjoy adventure with us as if you were attending a circus show or cabaret.” Thrilling Improv member Kate Wang

Improv in Taichung

Skits and Giggles

With their first official practice happening in 2007 under the name of Taichung Improv, the all English improv performance group known as Skits and Giggles officially changed their name in 2015.  With a mission of wanting to offer a space where anyone is welcome to come, laugh, and for new players to grow their skills as improvisers, Skits and Giggles is the longest standing group that started out as a fully English troupe.  Skits and Giggles sees their size as a point of growth and excitement.

Instagram @taichung_improv

“At one point, we only had 3 active members in our group. In many ways, I’d love to be as large as FIG, but in others, I love the “small group” feel we have.” Skits and Giggles member, Matt Bronsil.

“We’re very informal. There isn’t usually enough demand to have a set class structure, so our long-time players have gotten adept at teaching newer players at different skill levels in ways that allows everyone to both improve and to quickly be funny on stage. We’ve been working on being more bilingual, both in our open practices and in our shows.” Skits and Giggles member, Taylor Sharp

Whether it is comedic short-form, or more experimental long-form improv, Taiwan’s scene is a boiling pot of creativity where hungry audiences from around the world can find it all, and the heat is rising with new groups spawning from each other! Despite the mostly Chinese performance aspect, audiences with adventurous personalities will enjoy a show as long as they go with an open mindset.  With its diverse offerings and growing momentum, Taiwan’s improv scene promises a thrilling ride for audiences willing to embrace the unexpected and immerse themselves in the vibrant world of spontaneous creativity.

Original content can be found on the website of Taiwan Scene  

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