Sarasota is renowned for its rich and diverse arts and culture scene, making it a special place for enthusiasts. The city is home to some of Florida’s oldest and most prestigious cultural institutions, including the Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota Orchestra, Ballet, Asolo Repertory Theatre, The Sarasota Players, West Coast Black Theatre and the Florida Studio Theatre (FST).

While I love and appreciate all kinds of art and music, I especially enjoy attending Improvisation shows at the FST. Why? Because I believe (and see with my own eyes) that improv forces individuals to be present in the moment, freeing them from the chains of the past and allowing for spontaneous and creative expression. Seeing Improv puts a skip in my gait and gives me a more lighthearted and playful approach to life. In short, it’s just great entertainment that fosters laughter and interaction with the audience. And audiences are eating it up in Sarasota and buying tickets to all things Florida Studio Theatre.

I appreciate the FST and it’s sprawling campus downtown that includes two cabaret theatres, Brown’s Lab, Keating Theatre and a restaurant.  I recently attended “Out of Bounds” – a comedy show presented by FST Improv at the Florida Studio Theatre. The show is a classic competition in which two teams go head-to-head, and it is currently playing at the Bowne’s Lab Theatre. Sadly, the season for this show ended November 25, but there are plenty other shows you can see this winter season, and they undoubtedly will be equally as good as the one I saw. FST has high standards, after all!

And to heighten the excitement of the evening, the audience is also invited to dine at Bowne’s Lab one hour before show time to complete their theatre-going experience. The food is very good and the pricing reasonavle.

So why go to an Improvisational theater vs. a play? Improv is popular for several reasons. It allows performers to create spontaneous, unscripted content, which can be an enjoyable and inspiring experience for both the performers and the audience, The interactive nature of improvisation, where the audience can provide suggestions that the performers immediately incorporate into the show, creates a unique and engaging experience. Personally, I was immersed in the experience when I attended and felt as though I was  part of the show!

Additionally, improvisation helps develop a wide range of skills, including confidence, self-acceptance, the ability to focus and concentrate, and the capacity to adapt to ever-changing circumstances

.Furthermore, the history of improvisation dates back centuries and has been used in various forms of theater and performance, contributing to its enduring popularity. FST has workshops and classes durin the year and all are invited to learn improvisation. If you’re witty, not shy, have a sense of humor and not afraid to (occasionally) screw up your lines, improvisational classes are for you. Call the Theatre to find out more about how to register. 941.366.9000.

If you go, here’s the lineup of upcoming FST Improv performances

Through December 31, 2023, the fall season features a variety of shows, including the improvised holiday musical “It’s A Blunderful Life,” only performed on December 23, The season concludes with “Resolution Rewind,” a comedic retrospective of the past year, on December 31 and the comedic whodunit “To Die For,” among others. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased on the Florida Studio Theatre website or by calling 941.366.9000

The FST Improv performances showcase a wide range of improvisational disciplines, including Short-Form, Long-Form, Musical, and Free-Form styles, ensuring that no two performances are ever the same. Me? I like to laugh. So going to the Improvisation shows are always a big hit for me. Laughter’s the best medicine (they say)!

Florida Studio Theatre (FST) in Sarasota offers a variety of improvisation classes and performances, contributing to the popularity of improvisation in the area. The FST School provides classes for adults, such as “Beginning Improv for Everyone,” “Musical Improv 101,” and “Advanced Improv for Everyone,” which teach students to think quickly on their feet, explore creativity, and hone their comedic voice.

Additionally, FST hosts the annual Sarasota Improv Festival, which features workshops, shows, and interviews with established improvisers from around the world, further promoting and celebrating improvisational theater
The festival has welcomed improv groups from across the country, making it a special and distinctive event within the larger improvisational community on a national scale.  FST’s resident improv team also performs year-round, offering a wide range of improvisational disciplines, including Short-Form, Long-Form, Musical, and Free-Form styles

This robust offering of classes and performances at FST has contributed to the growth and appreciation of improvisation in Sarasota.

Laughter, the Best Medicine.

~ Andrea Martone
Andrea Mastrocinque-Martone is Sarasota Event Calendar’s Chief Editor. She is the former A & E Editor for Sarasota Observer Newspapers and is currently a public relations consultant.