The Improv Project

Improvisation or “improv” is unscripted group theater. Performers rely instead on listening, teamwork and making bold choices to give life to an idea, a scene or a character. Improvisation training teaches students important life skills, including how to problem solve and persevere, respect for the ideas of others, and how to collaborate and communicate effectively.

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Improvisation also teaches that making mistakes can and should be a learning experience. As the musician Miles Davis has said: “If you hit a wrong note, it’s the next note that you play that determines if it’s good or bad.” This process of adapting, imagining and creating builds students’ confidence in their abilities and boosts self-esteem.

The Improv Project: Teaching Young People How to Improvise.
The Detroit Creativity Project (DCP) created The Improv Project to teach middle and high school students in Detroit the art of improvisation. The Improv Project is a 10-week program offered at no charge during the fall and spring school semesters. The instructors are teaching artists with formal training in improvisation and arts education. The course has been offered in partnership with Y-Arts Detroit in theater classes during the school day and as part of after-school programs. Students represent a broad cross section of ethnicities and incomes, and come from neighborhoods across Detroit. Since 2012 we have taught over 2000 students in Detroit area middle and high schools how to improvise.

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Improvising: A Creative Outlet that Provides Skills for Life.

Keegan-Michael Key, co-creator and star of Comedy Central’s acclaimed comedy series Key & Peele, says his improv training has been key to his career success. And former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, a Second City student, credits this training for his business achievements.

Today many of Detroit’s youth face academic struggles and lack of family support, making it difficult for them to complete high school or attend college. Student improvisers get a chance to play and be heard, but they also learn lessons relevant to academic subjects that rely on clear communication and critical thinking. Graduates of The Improv Project give us feedback that their experience provides valuable practice in teamwork, job interviews and presentation skills, and bolsters their confidence when facing challenges off stage. They also report the classes are “fun” and “awesome.”

Creating a Connection with the Arts.
Like Keegan-Michael Key and Dick Costolo, we believe in the transformative power of the arts. We also believe that arts education provides a creative framework to connect young people in their schools, neighborhoods and across the city. Our experience with The Improv Project shows that improvisation training can have a ripple effect in students’ lives, developing skills relevant to other aspects of learning and impacting how they relate to their peers, family and community.

As knowledge of The Improv Project has grown, so have requests from schools looking to offer improvisational training to their students. Your support allows us to continue offering our programs free to students who have the greatest need. 

Please join us. Donate and get involved in the future of Detroit’s young people.

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