Improvisation in Chicago

(Contributed by Eric Forsberg)

The history of Improvisation in Chicago since the 1950s is a tale of learning, training and demonstration. The early visions of Viola Spolin, David Shepard and Paul Sills were powerful enough to launch theatre companies like The Second City. The vision of Josephine Forsberg was powerful also, launching a training center for would-be improvisors, and encouraging new talent to discover their performance potential. The PLAYERS WORKSHOP performance school was founded by Josephine Forsberg, creator of "theatre techniques through improvisation". Following in the footsteps of her mentor, the late Viola Spolin, Josephine became the improv instructor at the fledgling SECOND CITY Cabaret in 1964. For nearly a decade Josephine was the only source of training at Second City and she had a major hand in developing what we now refer to as "Chicago Style Improvisation". During this time Josephine built her own teaching method, based on the premise of Viola's early work. Like her male contemporaries, Paul Sills, Sheldon Patinkin & David Shepard, Josephine Forsberg has had a vital impact on the American performance scene.

In 1971, Josephine Forsberg created an entire school devoted to the training of young improvisors; PLAYERS WORKSHOP. Always at the forefront of Chicago's gutsy Improv scene, Josephine has trained thousands of ambitious performers, many of whom have gone on to become stars. From students like Bill Murray to Brandon Tartikoff, Shelley Long to Robert Townsend, Josephine Forsberg and The PLAYERS WORKSHOP have been a launching pad to New York and Hollywood. We also remain a primary supplier of trained talent to the Second City mainstage cabaret. In fact, Josephine's graduates have directed or performed with every major Second City company since the mid 1960s.

Eric Tecumseh Forsberg