Most folks are familiar with the short-form improvisation of shows like Who’s Line Is It, Anyway? but Washington Improv Theater, which sets up shop at 14th Street’s Source Theater, does things differently. The venerable District jok-ers are experts in long-form improv — extended pieces that focus more on col-laboration, narrative, and character development than simple games and gags. WIT’s five-week summer run is called BINGE , and that’s just what you can do, with three shows a week from six different ensembles and a number of visiting troupes.
Each WIT ensemble has prepared a different concept. They run the gamut from a post-apocalyptic scenarios to musical improv based on Craigslist Missed Con-nections – in which the audience submits Missed Connections and WIT song-sters imagine what would have happened if the connection hadn’t been missed. (Think Sliding Doors meets Singin’ in the Rain– endless hilarity.) Like all improv, nothing is scripted and while there’s a theme, no two nights are the same.
Meanwhile, the Commonwealth company is working on an expansive show based on 80s sitcoms that they’re calling SitCommonwealth. WIT says it’s one of the “most technically ambitious projects ever untaken” by one of their ensembles. The tech-heavy show has a theme song, opening credits, commer-cial breaks, three different sets, and other surprises you would not expect from an improv show. “Audience members can follow the show’s ‘season’ throughout the run,” says Commonwealth director and cast member Mike McFarland of their homage to classic sitcoms. “It’s really going to be different from anything that’s been done throughout the improv community in DC or anywhere else.”
Cast members are developing characters based on classic sitcom archetypes—the truth-seeking reporter, the grumpy bar owner, the ladies’ man. And while the sets and characters stay the same, in classic improv style each show will be based on audience suggestions.
Meanwhile, WIT is bringing guest performances from some of the country’s best improv comedians. The first weekend kicks off with Dummy, a two-person team from Chicago who draw on real-life experience to craft a touching, funny, emo-tionally honest performance over forty-five minutes. Word on the street is that they’re also working on a collaboration with storytelling troupe—and Scoutmob faves —SpeakeasyDC. (Swoon.)
Every night brings together two or three different shows, so audiences can pick and choose. WIT spokesperson Dan Miller isn’t picking favorites. “Everyone is doing such unique shows that I’m really excited to see what everyone comes up with,” he told us. We’re excited, too.