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The Global Improvisation Initiative Symposium 2021: TRANSFORM


This year, the GII seeks to expand on past symposium successes (2017 Southern California; 2019 London) while re-imagining the future of improvisation, conferences, and their form in the 21st Century. Our one-of-a-kind online event will feature 4 days of transnational programing, inspired by Nam June Paik’s "electronic super highway,” with curated presentations and workshops, organic conversations, and performances that transcend every time zone in the world crafting a truly a “global” symposium.


Once again, the GII Symposium 2021 will be co-hosted by Improbable theatre company and presented in collaboration with the University of California, Irvine’s annual Improv Revolution Coup de Comedy Festival. It will continue and deepen the explorations begun at GII 2017 and 2019, with specific focus on the central theme of “Transform.”

The improvisation community is in a moment of reckoning and radical transformation. Over the last year, for example, several founding improvisation institutions were forced to permanently close or reorganize due to the pandemic, economic hardships, and/or the demands by their own communities for change in regard to diversity, equity, and inclusion. The theme “transform,” therefore, points to not only the structural transformations (e.g., from brick and mortar buildings to virtual spaces) happening across the globe but also a call to action—a call to transform old (and current) power structures and to create bridges to a more inclusive, equitable future for those in our field that we have repeatedly marginalized.


“The heart of improvisation is transformation,” said Viola Spolin, the mother of improvisation. The best improvisers understand that processes must evolve, rules must be flexible, and impro classrooms and stages must remain a space to investigate the nature of spontaneous creation.


The GII Symposium 2021 will feature those in our community who have actively engaged in transforming their working models over the last year or so. A global, 24-hour Devoted & Disgruntled Open Space (in 3 circles), facilitated by Improbable, will provide an opportunity for symposium attendees to propose a topic they would like to share or explore around the larger question: How is the world transforming improvisation? How can impro transform the world?

An Invitation by Lee Simpson, Founder and Co-Artistic Director of Improbable

Devoted & Disgruntled: How is the world transforming improvisation? How can impro transform the world?

Love impro? Passionate about improv? Have a special place in your heart for the art of improvisation? This is the online event for you. Come and be part of a global conversation about making it up as you go along.

Improbable’s Devoted and Disgruntled events have been running for 16 years, in which time tens of thousands of people have gathered to discuss, work, plot and plan ways to celebrate and share what is great about theatre and the performing arts and take action on the things that urgently need to change. This event is focussed on the world of improvisation and whatever it is about that world that makes your heart sing or your blood boil.


The format is Open Space so no speeches, no panel of experts, no pre-set agenda (feel familiar? This is basically an improvised conference). The agenda is created at the event and anyone can post a session about anything. Then you go only to the discussions and groups that you want to. You participate as much or as little as you want, you come and go as you please.


Improvisation, along with the vast majority of the world, is facing an uncertain future and a daunting set of challenges. Some of these have arrived like a bolt from the blue but some are undeniably self-inflicted and real action to address them is long overdue. The best way for us to begin the work of meeting those challenges is to come together as a community, with our passions, our conflicts, our different philosophies and a shared joy in not having the faintest idea what happens next.


Whether you're improvisation is performance or applied, therapy or conflict resolution, actor or audience, whatever your relationship to this practice your voice is needed in this vital conversation.  


This will be a continuous 24 hour online event. One turn of the world. Improvisers from everywhere on earth joined up as never before. A precious chance to learn and connect to what improvisation means to people somewhere else, people different to you. A global improvisation.

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