If you’ve spent time in Chicago you know that it’s the hotbed of improvisational entertainment. The city has dozens of venues for the form. Shannon Winpenny, a Hawaii native, spent ten years in Chicago learning the finer points of Improv at the Second City Conservatory, then performing with acknowledged success. Another Hawaii native and a friend of Shannon’s, Kim Potter, was at the same time attending DePaul University learning Communications and Marketing, then working at the Lincoln Park Zoo where she honed her business skills.

There are two kinds of improv: Short Form and Long Form. Short Form takes a suggestion, then does a quick skit the players make up as they go along, usually working toward a way to pay off the suggested word or phrase as a joke. Long Form starts the same way but takes time to develop characters, situations and emotions – actually one-act plays performed with humor. No two shows are ever alike.

Having performed in Hawaii, Shannon knew that no Long Form was being performed here. She and Kim returned to Hawaii and, as Artistic Director, Shannon started giving classes in Improv. Kim runs the business side. They were surprised when the classes filled up quickly. Along with students and young people, lawyers, politicians, teachers, business people … anyone interested in improving his or her confidence, presence and creativity signed on. Many of the graduates of the class formed groups and looked for venues where they could perform. Shannon and Kim opened a small theater – Laughtrack Theater —in the center of the Arts District in Downtown Honolulu for Improv performances only. With two shows a night on Friday and Saturday evenings, the theater stays busy and is building a following. Shannon trained most of the performers and performs along with one of the groups both nights.

If you’re familiar with Improv, you’ll be more than satisfied with the performances. If you’ve never seen it, you’ll be happily surprised. Pick an agent from the Hawaii-Aloha Web site,(hawaii-aloha.com) or call 1-800-843-8772. We’ll fill you in on all the entertainment that will be available while you’re here and make arrangements for you if you like.


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