10 Shows We’re Excited to See at Manila Improv Festival 2017

Get ready to LOL.

(SPOT.ph) We often see theater performances as elaborate shows with well-rehearsed movements and memorized dialogue, but one form of this—improvisational theater—throws all of that out the window. Also known as improv, these stints rely on an improviser's wit and fast mind in coming up with on-the-spot actions and words based on the suggestions of the audience. The upcoming Manila Improv Festival is a celebration of this one-of-a-kind experience.


Created by Silly People's Improv Theater in 2004, the Manila Improv Festival has earned a growing following made up of international improvisers, enthusiasts, and fans. The fifth edition, set to happen from March 22 to 26 at the PETA Theater Center in Quezon City, features performances by improvisers from all over the world and across the country. We round up just some of the shows you should watch (but you should see all of them!).




"From China with Love: The Human Zoo" by Beijing Improv

When: March 24, 8 p.m.; March 25, 2 p.m.

Where: Main Stage


What would a zoo of humans look like? Beijing Improv, one of China’s oldest and largest improvised theater organizations, imagines this set-up through “From China with Love: The Human Zoo.” The community organization consistently draws large crowds and their proceeds benefit the international theater-based non-governmental organization, Huadan.




"Beautiful" by SPIT (Manila)

When: March 22, 8 p.m.; March 24, 8 p.m.

Where: Main Stage


SPIT, or Silly People's Improv Theater, describes itself as the "grand old ma’am/sir of Philippine improv groups." That's because it is! Founded in 2002, it's now on its 15th year of doing improvisational theater not just in Manila but also all over the world. "Beautiful," a long-form improv, loosely follows the format of a beauty contest and its exciting backstage drama.




"Welcome to the 852" by 852 Crew (Hong Kong)

When: March 24, 8 p.m.

Where: Main Stage

The 852 Crew call themselves a bunch of "gweilos," a Cantonese slang term for Westerners, residing in Hong Kong. They have performed all over Asia and they are now in Manila. “Welcome to the 852” is inspired by the Upright Citizens Brigade's show “ASSSSCAT.”




Bacolod Improv Group

When: March 25, 2 p.m.

Where: Main Stage


Community-based organization Bacolod Improv Group was established in 2014, with most of its members coming from the Kinengkoy Comedy Express. For Manila Improv Festival 2017, they're bringing in a series of short-form improvs to the Metro.





"Lazer Shark" by The Modern Schemers (Singapore)

When: March 23, 8 p.m.

Where: Main Stage


Modern Schemers, Singapore’s longest-running improv team, presents a funny commentary on bizarre game shows. "Lazer Shark" poses a challenge: What if, instead of a set list, the performers have no idea what games they're going to play?




"Conversation" by ImproMafia (Brisbane)

When: March 22, 8 p.m.

Where: Main Stage


ImproMafia, Queensland's leading improv theater company, presents their full-blown production "Conversation," which debuted at the Short and Sweet Festival 2016. The bite-sized show explores conversations that people always meant to have but, clearly, can’t quite get into.




Improv Comedy Mumbai

When: March 24, 8 p.m.

Where: Main Stage


Improv Comedy Mumbai, which was formed in 2009, specializes in Improvised Bollywood and Improvised Romantic-Comedy. For this year's show, they will use suggestions from the audience to create Bollywood movie-inspired scenes.




"Snap" by Zmack (Shanghai)

When: March 25, 8 p.m.; March 26, 2 p.m.

Where: Main Stage


Zmack presents "Snap!," a show wherein seven musical improvisers performs "The Riff," an improvised musical based on suggestions from the audience. It will be a lot of music, laughter, and random notes and lyrics.




"Chicken Soap for the Soul" by ASAP (Singapore)

When: March 22, 8 p.m.

Where: Main Stage


ASAP, a Singapore-based improv team, often incorporates singing elements into their show. We're expecting "Chicken Soap for the Soul" to be the same. It is an improvised soap opera, after all, and dramatic music should be part of it.




"No Prob, It's Improv" by Dulaang Atenista (Cagayan de Oro)

When: March 24, 2 p.m.

Where: Main Stage


Dulaang Atenista, the resident theater company of Xavier University, tries its hand at an improvisational act. “No Prob, It’s Improv” is a short improv performance by the one and only improv group in Cagayan de Oro.



Manila Improv Festival 2017 is from March 22 to 26 at the PETA Theater Center, Sunnyside Drive, New Manila, Quezon City. Tickets, priced from P250 to P500, are available through Ticketworld. Festival passes, from P1,000 to P2,000, are available at PETA Theater Center.

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