A BRIEF HISTORY OF WIT

Since 1986, through many twists and turns, Washington Improv Theater has prospered and evolved--both organically and by design. This timeline is a mere sketch of the rich and intricate story of WIT. Some dates are approximate.

TIMELINE

1986 - 1992  WIT is founded under the direction of Carole Douglis. The company performs short-form and longform improv around Washington, including a well-attended and well-received improvised Shakespeare performance. Other players include Rene Calarco

1992  Original WIT company disbands.

1995  Douglis, a natural-born teacher, starts offering classes at SALSA (the Institute for Policy Studies) and a monthly improv workshop for the Dark Night Play Readers, a community outreach program sponsored by the Universalist National Memorial Church at 16th and S, NW. Associate Pastor Vanessa Southern is instrumental in making this happen.

1996-1997  Douglis conducts weekly training workshops in her home for students she has selected from her other classes, exploring the ideas of Keith Johnstone, Viola Spolin, and Augusto Boal. Current artistic/executive director Mark Chalfant is among this group. 

1997 - 1998  After workshopping for over a year, Douglis' students present their first performance, in the basement of the UNMC. The show is game-based short-form improv. The excitement of performing and the response of the audience converts even the most reluctant students into players. The performing company is reborn as a consensus-based collective. Tyler Korba, Kate Wing, Justin Warner, Debra Shifrin, Yvonne Doerre, Erica Mott, Beth Beisel are among these players.

1998 - 2000   Douglis leaves the group to work overseas, handing over the reins to the ensemble. The new troupe begins rehearsing and performing regularly at the UNMC. A "consensus-based collective" proves a difficult model for making artistic progress, so WIT hires Second-City alum Catherine Weidner as interim artistic director. WIT hones its stage show and presents performance runs at Logan Circle venues Metro Cafe, Diversite, and other clubs around the District. WIT attends the Chicago Improv Festival in 1999 where most players see longform improv on stage for the first time. Topher Bellavia, Amy Coddington, Steve Brady, Matt Grabowski, Anita Chupp, Lisa Parson are players at this time.

2000 - 2003  After gaining national exposure and instruction at festivals and workshops around the country, the troupe launches an Improv Training Program of its own, led by Topher Bellavia. The group continues to evolve on- and off-stage, performing at the DC Arts Center and Source Theatre Company, then in the Source building where WIT is headquartered today. Under the artistic direction of Katie Carson, WIT fine-tunes its unique brand of freeform improvisation and further builds its national reputation. Performances include the longform horror show Scared WITless, the improvised bio-play Citizen Blank, and the signature free-form show Big Bang. In 2003 WIT expands its family to create the shortform troupe, Improv Nation, and the longform group Jackie (both featuring former students from WIT's Training Program. Mark Raterman serves as interim artistic director before departing for Chicago.

2004

WIT cranks it up a notch. Chalfant steps up to become the company's first full-time artistic/executive director. WIT becomes resident at Flashpoint, the arts incubator program created by the Cultural Development Corporation. In summer, Tyler Korba directs WIT's DC Neutrino Video Project, a smash-hit show that creates a movie live on the street while the audience watches it. In fall, Carson directs POTUS Among Us at Flashpoint's Mead Theatre Lab. A huge audience success, POTUS is WIT's first cross-ensemble cast production and its first attempt at anything resembling political satire. WIT's board of directors is reorganized, recruiting new blood in the form of professionals not otherwise affiliated with the company. Corporate training and performance clients include KPMG, the Hispanic College Fund, and the Congressional Youth Leadership Fund.

2005

Chalfant directs Tonic: the improvised musical cure for what ails you in spring--WIT's first crack at an improvised musical.

2006

More info to come.

2007

WIT is a recipient in the pilot year of the DC Commission on Arts and Humanities' Upstart Program, getting a significant boost in technology infrastructure and marketing. WIT produces iMusical as a part of the Mead Theatre Lab program, under the direction of creator Travis Ploeger.

2008

Topher Bellavia comes on board as WIT's Managing Director. An 8-year veteran of the company, he hits the ground running, successfully broadening WIT's exposure and expanding its training program. The company remounts POTUS Among Us in September under Chalfant's direction. iMusical becomes an official company ensemble of WIT.

2009

WIT's Fighting Improv Smackdown Tournament in spring of 2009 features over 120 improvisers vying for the championship. That honor goes to Not Mad, Disappointed.

The revolution is being improvised every day by the dozens of artists, technicians and supporters dedicating themselves to Washington Improv Theater's mission. WIT is a professional theater collective with three ensembles performing regularly in DC and at national festivals. It is a six-level class program training over 200 students per year. And it is a workplace training team bringing unexpected new ideas into old board rooms.

THE FUTURE

WIT will always be exploring, creating new shows and classes on the leading edge of the improvisational craft. The revolution will be improvised.

up
Studio Performance with BagCat (Chicago)
8:30 PM | $10
Tuesday, September 23
Harold Night at Source
9 PM | Free
Wednesday, September 24
District Improv Festival
7:30 PM | $10-40
Thursday, September 25
District Improv Festival
7:30 PM | $10-40
Friday, September 26
District Improv Festival
7:30 PM | $10-40
Saturday, September 27
District Improv Festival
1:30 PM | $10-40
District Improv Festival
5:30 PM | $10-40
District Improv Festival
9:30 PM | $10-40
Tuesday, September 30
Harold Night at Source
9 PM | Free
Friday, October 3
HOWL
7:30 PM | $12-15
HOWL
10 PM | $12-15
Saturday, October 4
HOWL
7:30 PM | $12-15
HOWL
10 PM | $12-15
Tuesday, October 7
Harold Night at Source
9 PM | Free
Friday, October 10
HOWL
7:30 PM | $12-15
HOWL
10 PM | $12-15
Saturday, October 11
HOWL
7:30 PM | $12-15
Tuesday, October 14
Harold Night at Source
9 PM | Free
Friday, October 17
HOWL
7:30 PM | $12-15
HOWL
10 PM | $12-15
Saturday, October 18
HOWL
7:30 PM | $12-15
Tuesday, October 21
Harold Night at Source
9 PM | Free
Friday, October 24
HOWL
7:30 PM | $12-15
HOWL
10 PM | $12-15
Saturday, October 25
HOWL
7:30 PM | $12-15
HOWL
10 PM | $12-15
Tuesday, October 28
Harold Night at Source
9 PM | Free
Friday, October 31
HOWL
7:30 PM | $12-15
HOWL
10 PM | $12-15
Saturday, November 1
HOWL
7:30 PM | $12-15
HOWL
10 PM | $12-15
Tuesday, November 4
Harold Night at Source
9 PM | Free
Tuesday, November 11
Harold Night at Source
9 PM | Free
Tuesday, November 18
Harold Night at Source
9 PM | Free
Tuesday, November 25
Harold Night at Source
9 PM | Free
Tuesday, December 2
Harold Night at Source
9 PM | Free
Tuesday, December 9
Harold Night at Source
9 PM | Free
Tuesday, December 16
Harold Night at Source
9 PM | Free
Tuesday, December 23
Harold Night at Source
9 PM | Free
Tuesday, December 30
Harold Night at Source
9 PM | Free
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