Why should I start an improvised scene positively?

There are several reasons why it makes sense to start an improvised scene positively.

Reason 1: Retraining impulses
From my experience, most people tend to react defensively or pejoratively under stress in order to protect themselves. As a result, 90 percent of all scenes begin negatively with impro newcomers (and not just with those). In part, the negativity is hidden, it’s little things that are wrong, that you or my partner are not doing right. “You are late.” is a much more common phrase than “Great, you’re here at just the right time.”

So when we start improvisational theatre, there are impulses that we have to “retrain”. To have a plan and not to let yourself be distracted from it can be very helpful in everyday life. For improvisation on stage it is rather uninteresting. To ask questions to people can signal great interest in my fellow human beings outside the stage, but on stage it very often shows insecurity. Because: We tend to ask for information in order to hand over responsibility to the other person. A similar impulse is the initial negativity. To protect ourselves, quite useful in everyday life, but problematic for the stage. Why?

Reason 2: The creative process

When we create a scene/story/situation together, we make ourselves vulnerable. I give an idea and with it a piece of me, and when my partner goes into it, we are in the middle of being creative together. If I now – subliminally or openly – always (re-)act negatively and critically, my counterpart gets the feeling that his/her ideas are not good enough. And automatically the other person suddenly feels uncreative. (An experiment, which by the way can be done quite easily).

Therefore: Being positive relieves my fellow players and helps the creative engine to get going.

Reason 3: Raising the stakes

Saturday night. At the club. All evening long I’ve been watching an attractive man with a stunning smile at the other end of the room.

Scenario 1: I dare to approach him and tell him that I can’t take my eyes off him and that I find him incredibly attractive. – He beams at me, answers me: “Wow, that’s great that you’re talking to me. Can I buy you a beer?” We were both positive.
The beginning of a story about you and me.

Scenario 2: I dare to approach him and tell him that I can’t take my eyes off him and that I find him incredibly attractive. – He laughs out loud and answers, that he doesn’t need to hear this from someone like me, then turns to his buddies to tell them how pityful I am to talk to him so clumsily. I was positive. He was negative.
The beginning of my story.

Scenario 3: I dare to approach him. I get cold feet on the way there, so when I get there I just say: “Hey you, I just wanted to tell you that your shirt is not buttoned up properly. – He replies, “Why don’t you mind your own business?” We were both negative.
End of story.

As soon as (at least) one character on stage behaves positively, he or she raises the stakes. If you make yourself vulnerable then there is something important to you. On the one hand, this makes you sympathetic and thus suitable for the audience to identify with, on the other hand it becomes easier to let something happen to your character and thus tell a story.

(But aren’t there also improv schools where people are taught to start in the middle of a conflict? Is that “wrong” then? – No. But that would go beyond the scope here…)

Nadine Antler

One more year till TÖRN 2021

Yesterday the clock was set forward… a good indication that we have exactly one year left until the TÖRN-Festival will take place next time. And such a hint seems so useful for us at the moment, when one day resembles the other.

Like probably almost all of our impro-friends around the globe we are sitting at home because of COVID-19. Improvised Theatre currently shows its innovative potential in online workshops and streaming shows, which allows us to witness the activities of the whole impro world around the globe. A huge opportunity and also a limitation at the same time.

The team of the TÖRN-Festival is therefore pleased when the contact restrictions by Corona are removed and we will welcome a part of the impro-world live again in Hamburg from 24th to 28.03.2021.

We’re already planning and assume that soon – but in any case in a year’s time – life can go on, we can hug each other again, dance together and play together – live!

That’s a Wrap!


After a full week of experimental improv, musicals, workshops, and events, it’s time to say a sad goodbye to the 2017 Törn Improtheater Festival, which would not have been possible if it weren’t for the exciting celebration of Steife Brise’s 25th anniversary!



Image by Klaus Freise


Last night’s finale consisted of four different performances (plus an after party!) in four different theaters – including a “quickies” presentation of newly developed work, an improvised chamber piece, a charming show in a bio supermarket, and a showcase of improvisers from Bremen, Hamburg, and Berlin.



Image by Klaus Freise


With night after night of packed theaters, the festival week was beyond a huge success. And although it is sad to say goodbye, we are lucky enough to have the awesome opportunity to be able to go to any one of the upcoming improv shows from Steife Brise whenever we are feeling a bit of improv-withdrawal!



Image by Klaus Freise


I think I can speak for everyone when I say that we owe a huge thank you to Steife Brise, our ensemble of international improvisers, our Patron, Yared Dibaba, the musicians, and all of the other helpers (and masterminds) who made this festival a reality!

So thank you again, to everyone involved with the Törn Improtheater Festival! It was a week that we will surely all remember for a long time to come!


TV Recycled – A Blast from the Past


Yesterday’s special late night performance in the Monsun Theater had the audience laughing with tears from the Törn ensemble’s hilariously recycled version of the 1970s hit TV series, Dallas.

TV Recycled gives new life to old television episodes by assigning each actor to a character from the TV show. The ensemble knew nothing about the TV show, storyline, or their character beforehand, and everything was a surprise to both them and the audience. After having a few seconds to review a short summary of their respective characters, the ensemble took their seats and began to take over the voices (and sound effects) of the show. All dubbing was then done spontaneously throughout the course of the episode.



Image by Klaus Friese

Although the original intended story of this episode remains a mystery, this lucky audience got to experience a brand-new ‘recycled’ plotline involving right wing/left wing politics, illiteracy, gambling for ponies, and an unhealthy addiction to coffee. I think it’s safe to say that the Törn ensemble’s version of the story was probably a bit more exciting than the original!



Image by Klaus Friese

The talent that was presented during TV Recycled was surprising and admirable. The teamwork, quick wits, and extremely focused attention span of the actors were all key elements in the coming together of this recycled TV show. By the end of the night, the audience was left with happy memories, sore smiles, and a whole new perspective of old school television.


Take It to the Bridge – Hamburg’s First Epic Space Musical


Last night, the Törn ensemble returned to the stage at the Fabrik in Ottensen, but nobody was truly prepared for the epic and sexy space musical that was about to unfold before their eyes.

Before the musical began, the actors asked the audience where they would like the musical to take place, and the top three suggestions came down to “an epic bridge”, “an airport”, or “a space station”. Naturally, based on a round of applause, the musical was set to take place in space (which ended up having an ongoing theme of epic bridges anyway!).

With the help of amazing improvised music from the band, the first half of the musical was filled with song and dance, taking the audience on a journey through what life could be like on a spaceship. From the upbeat canteen song about powdered food to the boredom of everyday life in space, every plot point unfolded as a fully improvised musical number.



Image by Klaus Friese


With the help of suggestions from the audience, each part of the musical was built in a collaborative fashion – from the details of the set, to the personalities of each character. The audience’s favorite seemed to be P117 – the paranoid and sexy robot from Russia. He may not have been able to feel emotions, but he sure was able to feel a whole lot of “ding ding”. Another audience favorite was the epic pink alien who snores a lot, smells bad, and licks everyone he sees.



Image by Klaus Friese


The second half of the musical was filled with many unexpected surprises, such as a family reunion (in space of course), a tiny castle, homesickness, and big emotional themes revolving around love, belonging, and building bridges. Let’s just say that at the end of the musical, not everyone decided to return to earth.

The cast of Take it to the Bridge left the audience with an overload of laughs, smiles, and unforgettable moments in this one-time musical that will never be able to be seen again.