Maybe you’ve noticed something different on our website, Facebook page, or Twitter account. The logo is the same, the colors, the pictures, information - no need to look through any of that. The way we do shows, teach classes, times and ticket prices, philosophy and approach to improv - all unchanged...
Got it yet? (Probably not. You probably don’t care enough to look, but in case you do, it’s the first thing you see when you go to our website).
Unscripted Theater is now called Spitfire Theater.
We had to change our name. We didn’t want to, but unfortunately another improv theater on the other side of the country trademarked the word “Unscripted” a while back and they don’t want us to use it. To them, “unscripted theater” is a style of improvisation that is in opposition to improv comedy, featuring grounded, truthful characters, believable relationships, and narrative structure. While we do that style of improv in our mainstage shows, we also put on all kinds of improv--because to us it's all, ultimately, unscripted. Taking that stance was enough to push them past their comfort zone, causing them to push us off the name.
No licence agreement. No negotiation. No wiggle room.
In our opinion, if doing “unscripted theater” means drawing a line in the sand and creating more divisions in the improv world that separate “us” from “them” than we don’t want anything to do with it.
Words are ultimately arbitrary and only take on meaning once they stand for something. In the past 6 months, our small theater has grown to stand for a lot more than the style of performance that happens here. Our shows sell out, our classes fill up, our community grows exponentially, and our spirit, enthusiasm, fortitude, and creativity as artists blossoms by the hour. Performers from Miami, Orlando, Sarasota, Tampa, Clearwater, Seminole and St. Pete have come out of the woodwork - sometimes driving for hours each weekend - to fill our space with incredible talent, goodwill, and community. Friends from Villain Theater, SAK Comedy Lab, Florida Studio Theatre, American Stage, The Box and many other groups have joined forces to smooth over divisions in the local improv scene so they celebrate a new theater in a great city that desperately needed a space devoted to improv. Walking through the greenroom any weekend you can find performers from all walks of life sharing a laugh, having a tender moment, or making future plans. They do short form, long form, mid form, narrative, and freeform. They do stand-up, storytelling, hip-hop improv, write sketches, fictional stories, and full-length plays. The artistic potential of the community that surrounds our space is boundless and you can’t help but see that when you’re here.
Collaboration, unity, community, creativity, turning “them” into “us” - these are the things that make an improv theater what it is.
I’m a professor by trade - wrote my dissertation about improvisation and how it affects romantic relationships. Got my doctorate in Communication, which is the bedrock of both improv and community. I had to learn a lot about the nature of language, and one thing I know is that while words are arbitrary, they take on meanings that exceed their definition when they stand for something. They can get people to share in core ideals, beliefs, and values. They can become a source of identity for those who find resonance in those meanings. For example, I’ve been a Cleveland Indians fan all my life but it has nothing to do with baseball or indigenous North Americans. I wear my Indians hat everyday because it reminds me of my childhood when the team went to the World Series for the first time in over 50 years. Everyone in my small town in Ohio went nuts for a week - we even got a day off school! It was my first memory of feeling connected to something greater than myself, a sense that I shared something special with people I didn’t even know. The name of the team exceeds the definition because to me, it stands for something bigger than baseball.
After brainstorming a list of nearly 100 potential names with members of the community, the name Spitfire Theater stood out as having the potential to mean more.
Sure it’s a fighter plane that was used by the British in WWII. But it also means fierce, bold, quick, sharp, and resilient - to show strength emotionally and spiritually, to be wild and free, to say what you want without worry, to be fiery, to be daring, to take risks, to jump off the cliff. We think that’s a pretty good description of what it takes to do great improv. It’s what we teach in our classes, what you see in our shows, and it's what draws people together from all walks of life. Do a scene with someone who’s taking a big risk and you'll suddenly know why improvisers say “I got your back.” That kind of thing makes for really good improv, which makes for really good people, too.
From the top of our intelligence to the bottom of our hearts, all of us who help run this theater want to thank everyone who’s gotten behind us and made this place something special. Without you, we wouldn’t have made it this far and wouldn’t have the fortitude to push through obstacles we run into along the way. Whether you’ve worked with us professionally, taken a class, gotten on stage, or simply come to see a show now and then, it’s because of you that we’re ready to ditch the status quo, let go of Unscripted, and embrace the future as Spitfire Theater.