Four years ago, Chicago entrepreneur John Stoops made it his mission to empower people with the strength of improvisational theater both on and off-stage. As an improv guru himself, Stoops left his corporate advertising career of 17 years to establish The Revival: a theater and education company utilizing the art of improv and its underlying skills.
The Revival returns improv to the place of its inception where more than 60 years ago, the art form was set in motion by a group dubbed the Compass Players at a theater in Chicago’s Hyde Park. Inspired by the legacy of the Compass Players and their makeshift theater, The Revival can be found at the same northeast corner of 55th Street and University Avenue on the South Side.
Like the Compass Players, Stoops understands that improv can be applied beyond just stage productions. The Revival offers a variety of fully customizable, mobile workshops to inspire productive meetings and events by taking improvisational techniques into offices and organizations.
“Improv workshops really teach people how to listen and acknowledge each other in a world where we unwittingly exist in two gears; either we’re speaking or waiting to speak,” says Stoops. “The product is a warm and collegial environment in which our clients can dig deep and get down to business in a way that they otherwise couldn’t have.”
Not to worry, Stoops emphasizes that you don’t have to be funny to reap the benefits of improv. Comedy is checked at the door and all that’s required of attendees is listening and participating. Stoops says about 10 minutes into sessions participants realize this and their preconceived notion of the word “improv” is dispelled.
In addition to The Revival’s shows, workshops and classes, the 150-seat theater and adjacent outdoor terrace are available for rent with the ability to accommodate groups of 20 to 200.