In Calle Comte Borrell, the beautiful new BIG Headquarters is bringing together amateur and professional improvisers in a space dedicated to connection, learning, fun, and comedy.
Barcelona Improv Group may be entering its 12th year bringing improvised comedy and theatre to the city, but the leap to open a dedicated venue for rehearsals, classes, professional training and performances represents a huge shift for the group, and for the English-language theatre scene in Barcelona.
The increased interest in improv during the pandemic saw directors Ella Galt (Australia) and Kiva Murphy (Ireland) looking to expand the company’s reach by opening their own theatre space. The new space, renovated by the pair over the past two months, is a big step up, finished to an impressive standard with plenty of personality.
“Improv is so often performed on tiny stages in the back of bars, and rehearsed and taught in any space you can find. BIG started rehearsing in a basement with a concrete floor and we’ve taught classes in rooms all over town,” says Ella, “But the quality of what the improv community is producing, and of the courses we’re offering, is deserving of a dedicated space.”
By day, the entrance serves as a casual office space for the team and creative co-workers looking to work alongside artists and improvisers, and the workshop spaces are available to rent for rehearsals and classes. In the evenings, the space houses improv classes in english for all levels and ages. “It’s easier to get involved than ever before,” says Kiva. “We’ve seen a huge boost in attendance at our Sunday drop-in workshops since opening. People are curious to see what’s happening here, and once they try it, they always come back.” Current students and cast members are thrilled with the upgrade, which now includes a lounge area and communal table for meetings, socialising, and after-class drinks.
The larger room doubles as an intimate performance venue for audiences of up to 45 people. “Of course the vision is to have improv performances, jams, visiting groups, and student showcases here,” says Ella, “but we would love to see it become a home for all types of performance, whether that be scripted theatre, cabaret, sketch comedy, clown…”
There’s no doubt that improv is the star here, with total beginners learning the skills of
communication, agreement, positivity and teamwork, while more experienced improvisers are honing their performance skills and comedy chops. The newly re-formed cast performs their 5-star rated, signature improv shows Spill the Tea, Writers Room, and the BIG Improvised Musical, twice a month.
“For years, BIG has brought so much joy to its members, students and audiences, so we’re very excited to finally be in a space that elevates and celebrates what we do.” says Ella.
“We wanted to make a place as fun and welcoming as improv is. As soon as people walk in the door they know they’re somewhere special.” says Kiva.
In addition to BIG’s regular programming, there are plans underway for a summer camp for kids and teens, intensive summer retreats, specialty courses with visiting teams and teachers, jams and performances, and professional training and development for companies.
BIG holds its official opening party Sunday May 22nd from 2pm-10pm. All welcome.
Full calendar of shows, classes, events and services on the website.