(Photos by Michael Rubino)
Off Madison Avenue in East Deutschtown, an unassuming metal door leads to the basement of an old church building that Steel City Improv Theater, a Northside venue for improvisational troupes from all over the city, calls home.
As Pittsburgh’s first improv theater approaches its first anniversary next month, SCIT can reflect on a year of rapid growth in the basement of the City View church.
“We’re never content,” said SCIT cofounder Kasey Daley of SCIT’s growth in the past year. She and her counterpart Justin Zell hope to continue to build on their successes.
Since it opened last year, SCIT has come to host about seven shows a week, which include free performances on Monday nights, and is the home of eight improv groups.
“ [I would be happy if] this time next year we had 20 groups, then 30 the next year…and the community just got bigger and bigger,” said Daley, who also hopes to add children’s shows to the theater’s schedule in 2012.
“We wanted a home for sketch comedy and improvisation,” Justin Zell.
SCIT regulars include: the Blue Stocking Babes, an all-female troupe that performs on Friday nights; Irony City, a traveling band of Pittsburghers who perform all manner of high jinks; and The Death Show, a thematic monthly installment in which members of the audience donate wallets and personal effects as the inspiration for darkly comical eulogies and funeral scenes.
“They have a passion for improv [at SCIT]. They love watching it, talking about it—they’re very committed,” said Tim Sherman of No Parking Players, one of the improv groups who has played at SCIT since its inception.
“After you perform,” said Molly Samuels, another member of No Parking Players, “They have you sign the wall.”
“We’re not an exclusive club,” said Kasey Daley, one of SCIT’s founders. “I hope we keep growing and growing, that people will keep watching and performing improv.”
SCIT also offers a number of improvisational classes, and students of all ages are invited to join one of their in-house performing teams and SCIT Social Improve Jams, which are open-mike free-for-all allows anyone and everyone to get on stage and enjoy the fun and games every Saturday night at 6:30 pm.
“We’re all over the board,” said Daley about the performers and performances. “Some people are actors like you might expect, [but we also] have software engineers, two nuclear engineers, and one person is a community planner!”
For more information and performance schedules for SCIT and its performers, check out Steel City Improv Theater’s website.
Francesca Fenzi is a senior at Carnegie Mellon University.