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No lines for you to learn! Discover improv theatre at ANU

Student experience
Reading time: 5 minutes

Have you ever wanted to get up on stage to do a bit of performance but haven't quite had the confidence? Improv theatre at ANU can meet these desires, build theatrical skills, and see you meet some great people while getting you relief from study.

ANU is home to a thriving performing arts scene, with various clubs holding regular events. There's the Shakespeare Society, Musical Theatre Collective and various revues.

One of the easiest clubs to get involved in is the Improv Society. There are no auditions or lines to remember —all you need to do is show up.

We sat down with Elizabeth Lawler, Secretary of the ANU Improv Society, to talk about what the club does and how students can get involved.


  • The ANU Improv Society runs weekly workshops that focus on building performance skills.
  • The club also works to put on performances for other students.
  • Anyone can join in improv theatre at ANU, regardless of their previous performance experience.

What is improv theatre at ANU all about?

Elizabeth describes improv theatre at ANU as "putting scenes together without a script — with prompts or without prompts — and working on skills to get better at it."

From a musical theatre background, she first got involved with improv through her friends.

"I wanted to come along and see what it was all about. Straight away, I was like, 'Well, this is way less scary than I thought it would be.' I think the image I had in my head was from improv games in high school drama — and that's not what it is!"

Two club ANU members sit and face each other during an Improv Society workshop.

Games are a large part of Improv Society workshops.

A typical Improv Society session

Each week, the Improv Society focuses its workshops on a different performance aspect.

"We started off working kind of the basics — just being in the scene and accepting offers and things like that. From there, we work on teamwork, listening and accepting. Then, usually in the second half of the semester, we build into character work for relationships, ending scenes, emotions, things like that."

These workshops run for two hours, starting with simple getting-to-know-you activities.

"And then it's little games to get the energy up so that everyone feels warmed up and comfortable in the space,” Elizabeth says.

“For example, if we're doing character, we'll often work on smaller games that help people think of aspects their characters might have. Then, in the second half of the workshop, we do games that are more scene-based."

Members of the ANU Improv Society posing for a photo in front of a whiteboard.

The weekly workshops are a great way to learn about improv.

Outside the weekly workshops, the Improv Society also runs social events like games and trivia nights. But the standout events are the performances which test all the skills built at the workshops.

"It's an intimidating thing to try and build into — going from the workshops to doing the performances — but [we have] a really good time. It's really cool being able to do scenes in front of people outside the club and it's always good to have that audience interaction,” says Elizabeth.

"I feel like it sets improv apart from other forms of theatre: you get that interaction with the audience in a way that's not too imposing for them. Not like, come on the stage and do this right now, but like, 'Hey, tell us what to do.'"

The best parts of improv

For Elizabeth, the best part of being involved in improv theatre at ANU has been meeting new people.

"I was able to really quickly make a lot of new friends and build my confidence. I was very shy for a theatre kid. But because it translates so much into my real life, it helped me to become more confident and outgoing. That has 100 per cent been the best part."

She says she’s also proud of how the club has become a welcoming, accessible place — especially for people who are new to improv.

"I think improv has a reputation in some circles and we just want to make sure that it's a really inclusive environment, that people feel like they can come to our workshops and have a good time—and just be themselves. We've built on that over the last couple of years, which is really nice."

All welcome

Any type of live performance can be intimidating, but Elizabeth promises that the ANU Improv Society is open to anyone, regardless of previous theatre experience.

"We love having new people!” she says. “Improv is a uniquely accessible form of theatre because it's not like you're having to play these characters that already exist or follow these stories that already exist. Since you're making the characters yourself, they come from what you're comfortable with and what you know.

"Because we focus on skills rather than just doing the performances, it's totally fine for beginners."

Check it out and give it a go

We gave Elizabeth the stage to say whatever she wanted and she used it to express her passion for theatre at ANU.

"Improv is just one of the many fantastic theatre clubs —we have a lovely theatre community. There are all the revues run by the different colleges and departments that are just so much fun,” she says.

"Then there's the Kabuki Club. I love Japanese theatre and I think it's such a fantastic thing to have a club for it —it's so cool. Then there are the Musical Theatre Collective, ShakeSoc (the Shakespeare Society) and the National University Theatre Society.

"There is so much, so I recommend people check it out to see what they enjoy the most. Everyone's committed and passionate about the theatre that they do," Elizabeth says.

The ANU Improv Society runs its workshops from 6–8 pm each Wednesday and at the same time every second Sunday.

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Learn more about improv theatre at ANU and our other clubs and societies.