Improv inspired by true - anonymous audience secrets.


If you want variety in your improv...then you probably like different formats.... comedy, games and long form.

Consider asking audience members to write true personal secrets anonymously on cards before a show..and then use them in place of suggestions or to prompt the show along.

Here's the way it worked at BATS Improv recently.

I approached audience members and asked them if they'd like to contribute to the show.  If they said yes, I would tell them I was looking for personal secrets.

Something the people at work don't know about you.  A guilty pleasure.  Something your parents don't know.  A belief.  Something you didn't do.  Something you've always wanted to do.

Many of them took the challenge.  Others replied, "I don't have any secrets."  "Really", I thought.

The Improvisational format involved 5 director - directing each other in scenes.

My theme was to tell a story using the audiences secrets.

We started with this one.

Two actors on stage...married and happy for 3 years.  The gal confessed the secret on the card above to her husband.  He was not pleased and decided to leave her.

The following scene found the gal alone in a park reflecting on her situation.  An actor off stage provided her inner thoughts with the aid of the microphone.

Her husband came by and they chatted for a while.  Both interjecting more secrets from time to time.

In the next scene she went back to her childhood home to talk to her parents.  There were more confessions including the one below from her mom.

In the final scene she returns to her husband and they decide to confess all their secrets.  (I gave them each a stack to use).

Every time an actor used one of the secrets the audience showed their appreciation.

These aren't all the secrets used in the improv...but they will give you an idea of what it was like.

Yes I did choose not to use some secrets that were graphic or overly sexual ...or simply seemed like a gag.  But here's the thing I liked about the experiment:

  • I loved getting the audience involved in a personal way - and talking with them before the performance.
  • I loved being reminded that we all have parts of us that are personal and secret.
  • I loved that the material was not trivial.

I have been experimenting with secrets and wrote about it in an article in this blog.  You can find it here.

I found inspiration in the web site: PostSecret and by talking with the folks in Austin about what they've been doing with secrets.

Have you experimented with true secrets on stage?  Would you be interested in more of this work?  Please comment below or drop us a note.