Our Story

Our Story

“a hive of energy, humour and warmth”- Inter:mission

The Bristol Improv Theatre is the UK’s first full-time dedicated improv theatre. We create, teach and perform spontaneous theatre that is accessible, creatively ambitious and unapologetically entertaining, as well as hosting troupes from all over the UK and overseas, bringing world-class improv to Bristol.

Our venue in Clifton is a home for Bristol’s amazing improv community. Some people join us as students, taking our classes to build confidence and unlock creativity; others jump on stage at our monthly improv jam, or perform in shows with our community theatre group, the Unscripted Players. Others just turn up and enjoy the shows and get to know us with a pint in the bar afterwards; it has been described as the friendliest place in Bristol.

When we aren’t putting on our own shows and classes, we play host to some of Bristol’s best independent producers and practitioners to populate our programme with a smorgasbord of exciting live entertainment, including Bristol Bad Film Club, Chucklebusters Comedy, Bristol Burlesque Festival, and many more.

We now run improv classes online so you can access our training from all over the world, and offer bespoke improv training to help businesses with teamwork, creativity and confidence.

Mission

It is our mission to be an institution of spontaneous, collaborative, and creative theatre, a resource for ambitious artists and audiences, and a home for all those whom improvised work touches.

History

The Bristol Improv Theatre started life in 2012 as the Bristol Improv Network, founded by a volunteer-led collective of artists, teachers and producers to forge connections between the existing improv groups in Bristol. After a debut performance at the Bristol Old Vic’s Improv Jam, we ran the first Bristol Improv Festival in 2013 from a series of pubs and music venues, featuring a line-up of local and visiting acts including Racing Minds, Project2, Closer Each Day, Instant Wit and Degrees of Error.

Two festivals, hundreds of classes and jams, and various venues (at wildly different levels of suitability) later, we started producing regular shows from the Polish Ex-servicemen’s Club on St Paul’s Road in Clifton and two years later became permanent tenants of the building. In two months, £27k of crowdfunding and a team of 40+ volunteers transformed this former-Victorian-schoolhouse-turned-working-mens-club-cum-live-music-venue into a purpose-built 120-seat theatre space, with licensed bar, rehearsal rooms and office.

Thanks to the hard work of our team and support of our incredible community, our small project to unite Bristol’s improv scene has grown into a thriving multi-disciplinary cultural venue where Bristolians can engage with the arts in a truly participative environment.