Precipice Improv Theater



Free sample classes Sunday afternoons at 3 pm 

Precipice Performs Fri. & Sat. nights  Jan. 11, 12, 18, & 19 at 8:30 pm

at Imagination Stage in Bethesda 

Welcome!Fling! and Blank Slate ImprovPrecipice Show DetailsDoor #3 showsPrecipice CastOur HistoryWorkshopsInterviewValentine's WorkshopReservations




"Very entertaining and intelligently done." Angela Rabitin

The Story of Precipice Improv

In 1989, after 10 years of acting, producing, and directing theater, Gary Jacobs sought a new challenge. As an improvisational theater director, he was familiar with the 3-5 minute improv model and wanted to do something different.

So, he started teaching a master class in improvising plays.  Gary knew that improvising plays had been done before -- by the Italians over 500 years ago (in a theater movement called Commedia dell'Arte that flourished from about 1450 to 1600). But
Commedia  actors followed a detailed plot outline and performed as stock characters they spent years perfecting.  Gary wondered whether it would be possible to improvise a high-quality play without these theatrical crutches.  This was a radical idea.  Because it takes weeks, months, and sometimes years to write a play.  And because playwriting, requires reflection (on how the various scenes and other play elements fit together to form a coherent whole), while good improvising requires complete focus on the present - two completely antithetical states.




Gary had some ideas about how to reconcile these seemingly contradictory states.  And he also learned techniques from Michael Gellman, a director at Chicago's Second City Theater Company who was also experimenting in this field. In 1989, Gary started teaching a master class to develop his ideas on improvising plays. After seven years of research, Gary was able to train actors to improvise full-length comic plays, in the security and safety of the rehearsal hall.

But two of his actors, Bob Adler and John Daley wanted more.  Bob and John had been acting since childhood, and had been improvising for ten years. In their work improvising plays with Gary, they discovered how to combine the excitement and immediacy of short-form improv with the power of a 90-minute story.  And they wanted to share this new found art form with an audience.

So, they dared Gary to form a theater improvisational theater company that would perform full-length plays.  Without a pre-planned plot or pre-set characters.  Gary took the dare...and Precipice Improv Theater was born.

With no script, Precipice performs full-length comic plays based only on audience suggestions. Precipice's company of daring actors includes Bob Adler, Ric Andersen, Michelle James, and Dan Mont.

Come be part of the ever-developing Precipice story...