Long Form Improv: The Torch Theatre
When most people think improv they think of the show Who’s Line is it Anyway. Short little vignettes and gimmick based games. There are several breaks between each different part and it is divided into blocks so the audience can take a breather.
This is not your “Who’s line” improv. This is long form. This is 25-45 minutes of searching and finding what works…on stage.
Jose Gonzalez runs The Torch Theatre in Phoenix. The Torch Theatre plays host to several long form improv shows that perform on weekends and sometimes during the week.
As a student at Arizona State University in 1998, Gonzalez took an acting class for non actors and met his mentor bree valle. After studying under valle and being inspired by ASU’s critically acclaimed Barren Mind Improv, Gonzalez took classes with a Phoenix improv group called The Barrow Gang.
Gonzalez took classes taught by Bill Binder, then was asked to join The Barrow Gang in 2001. Soon after The Barrow Gang started the Phoenix Improv Festival, and the group moved from Scottsdale to downtown Phoenix.
In 2003 members from The Barrow Gang joined with members from another group to form Galapagos, which exists to this day.
The Torch began in the summer of 2007 and was formed by several groups in the Phoenix area. The groups all were dedicated to growing the Phoenix improv scene and began performing together and teaching classes.
Apollo 12, Galapagos, Light Rail Pirates, Mail Order Bride, Phoenix Nuetrino Project and The Remainders all perform at The Torch.
Apollo 12 was formerly ComedySportz Phoenix began in 2000 and most of the others began from 2003-2005. Each show offers different performers and styles (The Remainders is musical improv) and each show is different every time.
Currently the only consistently performing show each week is Cagematch a show in which two groups perform a 25 minute set and the audience votes on which one they liked more. Cagematch runs every Saturday night at 10:30
Before You Go
Keep in mind that long form at certain points can seem weird, awkward, and nonsensical but the important thing is to have an open mind.
“We really try to trust in the audience’s intelligence to get what we do,” Gonzalez said.
Because each group acts independently there are no set auditions for the theatre or for each group. People will get involved with the groups by networking themselves in. Most of the groups formed on there own by there members, whether they were classmates or friends they all did their own thing.
The Torch Theatre also teaches classes which are taught by the performers at the theatre. There are different levels and different types of classes offered.
Location, Shows, Website