Getting to Know You: Phill Arensberg

So long, Any Elected Office Ever.

Trust me.

Hey, nice to see you. This being the introductory post, it seems like I should lay a few facts on you; experience being the best form of credentials. I started improvising in Mr. Ellington’s drama 1 class in 1984 when I was a mere lad of fourteen. I pursued improv and comedy in general as a passion and hobby and a maybe avocation through college with the Conn College improv group, Comedaevs Interrvptvs. Ah youth. Nothing seems so muffinly fresh faced as thinking you invented a pun.

After college though, things got serious. I decided to actually do comedy, be an actor. So onto Chicago for me via the sleeper train to study first at Jo Forsberg’s Players’ Workshop and then onto the training center at Second City. Since then I’ve been with improv mainstays like Comedy Sportz and Boom Chicago as well as been part of amazing little quantum miracles – those small, incredible moments of theater that supernova briefly but are lost in all the other stars.

Wow, this went to a lyrical place quickly. In any event, I’ve been improvising for about 28 years. Unsurprisingly, I have developed a few opinions on the ‘prov in it’s forms, philosophies and expressions. Also present are a number of questions and ideas that I’ve never been able to comprehend to my liking.

Currently in my conceptual improv thinking is all about blurring the line between audience and performer and how to move improv into a more immersive experience. What I’d like to create is a theatrical equivalent to Virtual Reality as portrayed in the higher budget species of science fiction film. So much of the baggage encumbering improvisation has to do with it’s attachement to the forms and structures, literally, of traditional theater: stage, audience, proscenium, etc. And none of it gets any better when shoe-horned into a stand-up venue. The point is that I feel the potential for improvisation as kick-ass, transformative entertainment is full of bravura and spectacle barely hinted at by the great work being done now and by the giants upon whose shoulders we stand. The best is yet to come…

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