TheatreSports™, Gorilla Theatre™ & Maestro™ Licenses

“You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”

– Robin Williams


John Barnier

admin [at]

Licensing for TheatreSports™, Gorilla Theatre™ and Maestro™

Impro Australia holds the NSW Australia license for TheatreSports™, Gorilla Theatre™ and Micetro™.  For all licensing enquiries about performing, staging, teaching or promoting these three copyrighted theatre formats within New South Wales, please contact John Barnier.  admin [at]

All licensing enquires for territories outside of NSW should be be directed to the International TheatreSports™ Institute:

Format descriptions – copied from the ITI website



TheatreSports™ is an improvisation show created by Keith Johnstone and developed at the Loose Moose Theatre.  The first official performance was held at the Pumphouse Theatre in 1977.


TheatreSports™ is an improvisation show created by Keith Johnstone and developed at the Loose Moose Theatre.  The first official performance was held at the Pumphouse Theatre in 1977.

TheatreSports™ could be defined as teams of improvisers competing for points. This is a simplistic definition.  It relates to what people see, but does not define what TheatreSports™ actually is.  TheatreSports™ is much more than a show structure.  It represents a philosophy and approach to improvisation.

Many groups may play a competitive improvised format, but few actually play TheatreSports™.
TheatreSports™ encourages performers to take risks while being good-natured. The components of the show (horn, basket, judges, challenges, teams, host, etc.) are there to support and encourage risk and allow improvisers to be fearless in their endeavour to create stories in the spontaneous moment.

It’s aims to create a theatre show offering a variety of stories ranging from the comedic to the dramatic.  It embraces stories of life, politics, religion, and love.  It challenges points of view; expresses opinions. It creates an evening of theatre that engages the audience in a way that makes them respond openly, as one might do at a sporting event, and has them thinking and talking about the performance afterwards


Gorilla Theatre™

Excerpt from Keith Johnstone’s newsletter Gorilla and Maestro (Nov. 98)

Gorilla Theatre is not for beginners.
A large board to one side of the stage says:

Keith Johnstone’s

Below this is a slot into which players will slide their names when they wish to direct their colleagues, perhaps demanding a scene in which a beggar is kicked and turns out to be Jesus, or a passionate love-story in which someone makes the wrong choice.

Directing Gorilla
Boldly announce the nature of your scene (so that we’ll know exactly what you’re struggling to achieve), for example: “I want to see an out of work parent who is too poor to buy a Christmas present for a child.”

Fight for the scene you want by throwing in dialogue, by starting it again, be recasting it, by ejecting someone and taking their role (the ultimate insult in the Professional Theatre), and so on.  The struggle to attain your vision is at the heart of Gorilla Theatre and makes it unlike any other form.
When the directors have no idea what they want — apart from entertaining the audience – Gorilla Theatre is just another way of packaging the ‘same old stuff’.  But a series of fights to achieve something worthwhile can be wonderful to watch.

The Gorilla
Without a Gorilla the game reverts to ‘My Scene Impro’, but a gorilla adds to the ‘spectacle’.  Purchase several costumes and launder them frequently.  The ‘fur’ has to be shaggy.  Commercial gorilla costumes can be ordered via carnival shops.

“Every time you go the way the audience expects, they’ll think you’re original. People laugh with pleasure at the obvious.”
– Keith Johnstone



Maestro (as it is now called) could be simply described as an elimination format.  Players are called by the directors who set up the scenes and add input during the scene. The audience is asked to  score the scenes and as the show goes on lower scoring players are eliminated.

As with all Keith’s formats what you see from the audience perspective is only a part of the show.  It is the structure of the format and how it is designed to support the improviser in taking risks while creating spontaneous theatre that is real fun.

The best way of explaining Maestro would be to read what Keith has said about it.

Keith Johnstone’s newsletter Gorilla and Maestro (Nov. 98) pg.10

Maestro is another feed-back game, but the feed-back from the audience is more precise, and whereas Gorilla Theatre is for experts, Maestro™ is best when it’s played by a mix of experts and beginners. It began at Utrecht where tickets had been sold for a performance at the end of a four-day Summer school. All twenty-six students wanted to play Theatresports™, even though this is one of the more difficult impro-forms and most of them were novices (‘fools rush in…’etc.). I decided to accept everyone, and then ‘narrow the field’ in some way that was visibly unfair (so that the ejectes wouldn’t have to think badly of themselves).

Keith Johnstone’s newsletter Gorilla and Maestro (Nov. 98) pg.13-14

Maestro develops the skills of beginners speedily because it’s more effective to correct them mid-performance that to give notes afterwards.  For example , a ‘silly Waiter’ who ruins a delicate love scene, can be sent back, perhaps again and again, until he/she present something believable.

It’s thrilling to see more and more of fewer but ‘hotter’ performers.  Spectators will groan if a popular player is eliminated early, but that makes the game more poignant (sometimes the favourite at a steeple-chase falls at the first obstacle).  We lessen the chance of this be delaying the eliminations until after Round Two.

Maestro is not a game for a cast of superb improvisers, because it’s depressing when every player who is eliminated is someone you wanted more of.

The director’s responsibility for the quality of the work becomes clear as soon as they shout instructions, and perhaps even restart scenes.  You might expect this to ‘rattle’ the improvisers, but these intrusions absolve them from blame.  If directors are skilled, Maestro is the least stressful for of public improvisation that we know.

Keith Johnstone’s newsletter Gorilla and Maestro (Nov. 98) pg.17 

I would have invented this form decades ago had I realised that the spectators could agree on a score.  Hysterically funny scenes, scenes with genuine emotion (pathos), and scenes that tell stories get FOURS and FIVES; whereas players who are just being silly get ONES and TWOS in spite of the laughter.  This confirms my belief that laughter is misleading.

One of the pleasures of Maestro and Gorilla (at Loose Moose) is that the players do all that they can to improve other peoples scenes, i.e., having fun is more important to them than winning.  Self-obsessed and mean-natured improvisers should stick to conventional impro unless they can learn to be supportive.

The problem with Maestro is that it needs brilliant directors.  Train some, and Maestro will be the most pleasant and least stressful of all impro forms for the players.