Improv to return to Hyde Park

An art form that began in Hyde Park is getting a revival, literally, with a newly established comedy club that will dedicate itself to entertaining audiences, and of course, making people laugh along the way.

Hyde Park resident John Stoops has always had a love of comedy, particularly improvisational comedy, but put it to the backburner for years.

“In 2012, I said enough is enough and its time to change gears and really pursue my dreams and passions,” he said.

Stoops created the Three Oaks Theater Festival in Michigan, about 60 miles away from Hyde Park. There, he was able to get the experience and learn the ins and outs of what it really meant to produce professional theater so that he could open up his own theater one day.

The Revival, 1160 E. 55th St., is the theater that Stoops, and Hyde Park, has been waiting for. By coincidence or fate, the Revival sits in almost exactly the same location as where improvisational comedy first originated sixty years ago by a group called the Compass Players.

“Performing shows on the northeast corner of 55th Street and University Avenue, they are credited with inventing the modern form of improvisational comedy,” Stoops said. “They quickly gained national acclaim and within three or four years, the group got pulled apart because they moved on to bigger projects.”

The director of the group, Paul Sills, moved on to open the Second City Theater in 1959, which circles back to Stoops introduction into the comedy scene.

“Twenty years ago, my employer at the time offered classes at the Second City training center and I was looking to meet people and have fun, but it ignited a passion in me that is still going,” he said.

The Revival will be home to shows, classes, workshops and more once it opens its doors in late November. Stoops clarifies that 2015 will be a soft opening for the theater, but come January 2016, the theater will have a grand opening and a regular schedule.

So far, beginning in December, Wednesday nights will be an open mic night at the theater, and Stoops said artists from comics, actors, singers, poets and rappers are welcome to bring their time and talent to the stage.

The Revival is also the new home for Off Off Campus, the University of Chicago’s student improve troop. The group will have the Thursday night slots to perform. A North Side stand up comedy group, Lincoln Lodge, will also find a home in the South Side at the Revival on Sunday nights.

For Stoops, it is a dream come true to open up a theater, especially in the ongoing and exciting development that is occurring in his neighborhood.

“I’ve had a front row seat to all of the development that’s going on in the area, and much of it is arts oriented,” he said. “There is something really brewing in the community with energy and excitement.”

The theater, which sits about 140 people, will be all ages all the time. Stoops hopes it becomes a nightly tradition for residents that always ends in having a good time.

“I would love for the Revival to become a beloved community destination,” He said. “A place where folks from across the South Side know there is always something happening, and that it’s always good.”


[Via: Hyde Park Herald]

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