Over 30 years of milestones, magic, mayhem and memories

“Directing a group of improvisers is like holding the reins of a multi-headed joyful beast. At the sniff of a fresh idea, they launch themselves into the unknown. Sometimes you can steer them but usually you just hold on and enjoy the incredible ride. 

– Jonathan Ripley

WRITER'S BLOC: David Witt, Anthony Ackroyd, Andrew Denton (under wig) and Steve Johnston, 1987 Cranston Cup Champions

Our History

When TheatreSports™ first came to Sydney in 1985, there was a buzz around town: the newly-opened Belvoir St Theatre had a cult, sell-out Sunday night show. It was a style of performing called ‘impro’ – which at the time sounded like something impossible from another planet. “There’s no script?”… “What do they do?”… “I can’t believe it!” Everyone in the Sydney theatre scene was either in the audience or on stage ‘improvising’.

BELVOIR Sign 07Belvoir St TheatreSports™ quickly exploded into an annual program of shows, an ABC TV series, spin-off theatre shows and International tournaments, as a new wave of brilliant improvisers came of age. In the 90s, it became an independent company, TheatreSports™ Inc, and then in 2000, it morphed into the current, artist-run entity, Impro Australia. Thirty odd years later, the impro(v) scene has evolved and matured, embracing a wide range of exciting styles and forms. Over the years, so many incredible people have been involved, many of them becoming household names.

In the 1990s and 2000s tens of thousands of players took our courses and workshops and TheatreSports™ shows sprang up all over the city. From the Harold Park Hotel to the Comedy Store, The Arthouse Hotel to the Bridge Hotel in Balmain, as well as the Sydney Town Hall, The Conservatorium of Music and the concert hall of The Sydney Opera House.

We’ve produced countless themed shows including PULP, Parliamentary TheatreSports™ and Mixed Doubles Tennis to ImproVasion, EspressoSports and the Comedy Improlympiad in 2000 at Belvoir. There have been Royal Rumbles, TudorSports, Vampire TheatreSports™, The Impranos, Blind Panic! (a TheatreSports™ show mixing visually impaired players with some of our pro players) and just about every other improvised format and genre you can imagine. Each season, every performance had one thing in common. Dedicated performers taking a risk and making everything up as they went along.

TWO SANDWICHES SHORT OF A PICNIC: Murray Fahey & Ewan Campbell – Cranston Cup Grand Final Champions in 1992

Today Impro Australia produces epic Enmore Theatre shows, improvisation and TheatreSports™ courses & workshops, the TheatreSports™ in Schools Program including the TheatreSports™ Schools Challenge (TSC), Corporate Events and Training, and much more. What started as a creation of Keith Johnstone, an Englishman living in Canada, and has since become a truly Australian theatre tradition.