the Work

Improvisational acting workouts in real-world settings
(without an audience)

The Work is a performance growth opportunity in which performers invite each other to hone their skills by playing truthful, connected, improvisational scenes that take place in real-world settings around New York City.  Although the Work takes place in public locations (cafés, libraries, parks, trains, etc.), it is not played for audiences, but rather as an opportunity for performers to practice and develop their craft.  The focus of the Work is on improvisational acting.  While humorous elements may arise, there is no requirement to be funny.  The Work is a chance to explore character-driven improvised scenes with professional actors and improvisers in a focused, non-judgmental setting.

1. Using the Work website messaging system, one player invites another player to play in a Work session. The invitation may accepted or declined. (Players may also post an open invitation and allow other players may contact them.)

2. If an invitation is accepted, the players set up a time and a public location in which to meet. A story premise may also be established, but it is not required.

3. The players show up at the agreed time and location where they improvise a scene, remaining in character the entire time.

4. When the scene is done, the players go to a debrief location where the work is discussed, out of character.

5. Players then share their experiences and discoveries by posting about their session on the Work message board.

Fly under the radar.
Scenes should never become so extreme that people in the area begin to watch what is going on.  Big emotional outbursts are not a part of the Work.  The Work is not a performance for an audience, it is a workout session for the performers.  If people start to watch, dial it down.

Respect property.
Players must treat the scene environments with respect.  There is no rough handling or abuse of property.

Stay legal.
Introduction of weapons, toy weapons, and dangerous or illegal substances is forbidden.  Laws and common sense should be followed at all times.  Playing in a scene is not a justification for illegal or inappropriate behavior.

No directing.
In the debrief session, don’t give notes to your partner about his/her work.  Talk about the challenges and successes you encountered in your own work.  You may ask for feedback on your work, but don’t offer feedback about your partner’s work, unless it is requested.

Part of the fun (and the challenge) of the Work is the opportunity to play with new people. To insure that performance partners are skilled actors or improvisers, not wannabes, creeps, or stalkers, players must go through an audition/interview process to become a member.

The audition consists of playing a truthful, connected, improvised scene in a public location, followed by a conversation out of character. A few days after the audition, applicants will be notified by email whether or not they have been accepted for membership.

Once accepted, members are given access to the Work website where they can post their own profile, review other member profiles, post and reply to invitations, and read reports on other players’ Work sessions.

Auditioning for membership is free. If you accepted as a member, dues are $10 for 12 months, which helps to defray the administrative website costs.  You may cancel your membership at any time for any reason and receive a full refund of your membership dues.

For more information or to request a membership audition/interview, contact Jeff Wirth.

What is the point of the Work?
This is a chance to work your improvisational acting chops in a format that focuses on commitment and connection without the need to be funny or to be concerned about what an audience, an instructor, or other performers might think. It also is an opportunity to play with talented people with whom you may not have worked before.

Who does the Work?
The Work is coordinated by Jeff Wirth.  All players are vetted through an audition/interview process before they can become members and participate in the Work. You can see some of the members who are doing the Work by clicking on the link below.

Bradford Jordan
Christine Magee
Jenn Kent
Shea Elmore


Is this like performance art or Improv Everywhere?
No.  Performance art and Improv Everywhere play with the intention of there being people who will watch what is being performed.  Although scenes will be played in public spaces, they are not being performed for any kind of audience.  If people start to watch your scene, dial it down. The Work is a workout for the performers, not a performance for an audience.

How do I set up a Work session?
You can review the member profiles on the Work website.  When you find someone with whom you would like to play, you extend an invitation with a day, time, and location for the proposed Work session. You may also post an open invitation and allow other players to contact you. Once an  invitation is accepted, the two of you decide how long the session will be, if there will be a story premise or not, how you will recognize each other (if you have never met before), a “scene end” signal, to indicate that the scene is over, and a debrief location where you will meet for an after-scene discussion.

How long does a Work session last?
A Work session can be as long or as short as you like. It is not unusual to allocate 30 minutes for the scene and 30 minutes for the debrief, but the decision is up to the players involved.

May I use props and costumes?
You may wear costumes or bring props that are appropriate to the scenario, if you like.  You may NOT bring illegal substances, things that look like illegal substances, weapons, or toy weapons of any kind.

When am I supposed to be in character?
You arrive at the scene location in character, and stay in character until the scene is over and you have arrived at the debrief location for the after-story conversation.

Can I bring along a friend to watch?
No.  This version of the Work is not for audiences.  Players can take bigger risks and try new things since there isn’t a need to entertain an audience.

What if I get a phone call or text during the scene?
You may take the call or reply to the text, but you will need to incorporate the call or text in to the fiction of the scene that has been established.

How will I know when the scene is over?
A “scene end” signal is agreed upon as a part of the preparation process. When either player feels that the scene is over, they give the “scene end” signal, and then go to the debrief location.

I have other questions.  Who can I contact?
Contact Jeff Wirth.