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Theatre Strike Force
Official logo
Established 1989
Type Improvisation Theatre
Location Gainesville, Florida, United States
Colors White and Blue
Nickname TSF or Strike Force
Website http://www.theatrestrikeforce.org
Members of Theatre Strike Force pose during their "12 Hours of Improv" philanthropy event, March 2008

Theatre Strike Force is the University of Florida's premier improvisation troupe. Membership within Theatre Strike Force currently exceeds 60 members.[1][2]

Contents

Description

The style of improv performed by Theatre Strike Force is primarily short form. However several outlets for long form improvisation exist within the group. This includes The Sunday Group, The Delta Group and the Apprentice Group (the former being the "varsity" team, the middle being the "intermediate" team and the latter taking on the role of "novice") and A.M. Radio, a musical long form troupe. In addition to improv, a sketch writing branch exists, appropriately named TSF Sketch.

The primary purpose of Theatre Strike Force is to provide social and political commentary in a thought-provoking and comedic manner. This is achieved through performing improvisational and sketch comedy that is both entertaining and socially engaging.

History

Theatre Strike Force has been a comedic fixture at the University of Florida since 1989. Founded by Dr. Judith Williams and Sid Homan[3], both of the UF School of Theatre and Dance, the improvisational group initially performed experimental "street theatre" that was satirical in nature.

In the mid 90s, the group came under the direction of Heather Roberts, who fused TSF's social and political consciousness with a more comedy-based style of improvisation. Roberts also created The Sunday Group, a special team within TSF that would focus specifically on "long-form" improvisation (a Chicago style that provided the comedic foundation for stars like Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Chris Farley).

Now, with regular performances for packed audiences and ever increasing membership, TSF has become one of the largest and most popular collegiate comedy groups in the nation. Although best known for "short-form" improv (popularized on the TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway?), TSF also performs long-form improv, musical improv, and sketch comedy. Many TSF alumni have moved on to Chicago and Los Angeles, joining the ranks of some of the best improvisers in the country.

Activities

Theatre Strike Force performs monthly at the Orange & Brew, as well as multiple residence halls on the University of Florida campus. TSF has also performed for Dance Marathon and Relay for Life[4] in addition to other charities and student organizations in Gainesville. Theatre Strike Force offers a formal course in learning to perform improv through their "Academy".

Organization

Academy

TSF may function as a performance group, but at its heart is also a completely open club. TSF's Academy was created with this in mind. Divided into three classes, T-, S-, and F-Groups, the Academy offers three different experience levels for aspiring improvisers. "T-Group" is designed for people who have little to no experience with improv comedy. The focus of this class is to learn the basic principles of the craft, such as support and "Yes, and..." while being taught short form improv games. Once students have sufficiently learned these techniques and feel comfortable proceeding with their training, they are moved up to "S-Group", where they are taught basic long form and scene work using "The Harold" structure as a guide. Only after mastering both short form and long form classes are students allowed to begin the "F-Group", TSF's third and final training level within the Academy. In "F-Group" students are taught advanced long form techniques and structures.

Sunday Group

The Sunday Group is an elite, auditioned troupe of improvisers that performs long-form improv. They represent the best Strike Force has to offer. The Sunday Group performs at a wide range of events including shows on campus, at local bars, and a medley of shows at Gainesville's prestigious Hippodrome State Theatre. The Sunday Group has gained acceptance to various improv festivals, including the Chicago, Miami, Blackbox, and Dirty South festivals. They also perform regularly in the Gainesville Improv Festival.

The Sunday Group has also competed in a number of improv tournaments. In November 2009, the Sunday Group (competing under the name of its parent organization, Theatre Strike Force) won the Southeast regional tournament in the College Improv Tournament, sponsored by the Chicago Improv Festival.[5] They will compete in the finals on February 10, 2010.

Delta Group

As the newest troupe in TSF, Delta Group serves as the training ground for Sunday Group. They are the intermediate group that perform with Sunday Group. They speciailize in organic, Chicago-style improv and explore themes based on audience suggestions. In Delta, players are challenged to push their improv muscles and specialize in the Harold.

Apprentice Group

Almost everyone that has ever been in the Sunday group has learned their craft in the Apprentice Group. Also specializing in long-form, the Apprentice Group performs both with the Sunday Group and on their own. Don't let their name fool you, as these players may be apprentices of the Sunday Group style, but they've become masters of their own, quick-paced style as well.

A.M. Radio

Founded by Nicole Christiansen in January 2008, the A.M. Radio performs half-hour, fully improvised musicals that are inspired from an audience-given suggestion. A.M. Radio entertains audiences with shows that are full of memorable characters, interweaving story lines and catchy musical numbers.

TSF Sketch

Founded by Erik Voss in January 2008, TSF Sketch is a team of comedy writers that meets weekly to collaborate in developing ideas and writing sketches. Their mission is to provide Theatre Strike Force with a flow of sketches to use to entertain audiences in the local Gainesville community and beyond.

Outside Groups with TSF Alumni

Many members of Theatre Strike Force have gone on to create and/or perform with a number of independent improvisation and sketch troupes across the country including [6]:

Name Location
3033 Chicago
Angerstein Street Chicago
Mad Cowford Jacksonville
Mod 27 West Palm Beach
Pennybear Chicago
Whirled News Tonight Chicago

Notable alumni

Many improvisers and comedians across the nation got their starts at Theatre Strike Force including:

Alumni Notability
Bill Arnett Level 4 Instructor at I.O. Chicago. Arnett's blog is highly acclaimed among improvisers for its technical and charismatic approach toward improv.
Jessica Rogers Youth/Teen Program Faculty for The Second City in Chicago
Tracy Salter Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts at the University of Northern Colorado.
Jason Pardo House Player at I.O. West.
Jill Eickmann Artistic Director at the Lila Theatre in San Francisco.
Heather Delude Artistic Director of Freeplay in New Haven.
John Forsythe House Player at The Playground in Chicago.
Andre Washington Artistic Director of ComedySportz New Orleans.

References

  1. ^ The Center for Student Involvement at the University of Florida
  2. ^ Gainesville Sun article about the organization
  3. ^ The University of Florida's School of Theatre and Dance
  4. ^ The Independent Florida Alligator
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ The Gainesville Sun

See also


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