Stanfordian Spontaneity: Improvising the Arts

Inspired by a group of talented students, Patricia Ryan Madson, then a Senior Lecturer with the Drama Department, established the Stanford Improvisors to help strengthen their skills in theatrical improvisation.  The Stanford Improvisors, or the SImps, trained in the tradition of Keith Johnstone, an internationally-recognized master of improvisation at the University of Calgary in Canada.  One year later, the SImps obtained a license to study, perform, and teach Theatresports, a competition style of improvisation developed by Johnstone in 1977.  In addition to teaching this mode of improvisation, the SImps appear in regular performances both on and off-campus.  Dan Klein, Lecturer in Drama, currently coaches the SImps.

Bios: Patricia Ryan Madson – Lecturer Emerita of Drama who specializes in theatrical improvisation techniques.  She founded the Stanford Improvisers in 1991, published her book, Improv Wisdom: Don’t Prepare, Just Show Up, in 2005, and teaches on occasion through Stanford’s Continuing Studies Program.

Dan Klein – Lecturer in TAPS with a focus on comedy and improvisation.  He currently mentors the Stanford Improvisors.

Featured image: Stanford Improvisors pictured with coach Dan Klein.  Photograph by Nadia Mufti