Improvisational comedy was invented in Hyde Park. In 1955, the Compass Players opened a makeshift theater at the northeast corner of 55th Street and University Avenue. One night, the theater was performing for a capacity crowd. The bartender, Fred Wranovics, pulled director Paul Sills aside and asked him to extend the show so he could sell another round of drinks. Without any additional scripted material prepared, Sills decided to present a third act comprised entirely of improvisational games based on audience suggestions. Needless to say, it was a huge success. Soon, the Compass Players ditched scripted material altogether in favor of improvised performances that became known for pointed social satire and political commentary.
By 1958, the group splintered. Company members Mike Nichols, Elaine May and Shelly Berman went to New York where they quickly gained national acclaim. Director Paul Sills moved north and co-founded The Second City. In the subsequent 57 years, improvisational comedy has become a cornerstone of the global entertainment industry directly influencing theatre, film and television programming around the world.
The Revival is inspired by the legacy of the Compass Players and returns improvisation to its birthplace on the northeast corner of 55th St. and University Ave. in Hyde Park. The Revival presents live performances to the South Side’s diverse population of residents, students, faculty/staff, neighborhood professionals and visitors in a 150-seat cabaret theater.
The Revival offers classes and workshops that teach improvisation to community members, University of Chicago students, faculty & staff, South Side professionals and anyone interested in developing their creative voice. For more information about classes, click here.
The Revival is available for corporate events, parties and other private gatherings. The venue can accommodate up to 150 seated guests or 225 standing guests and is easily reconfigured for smaller groups. We are also happy to provide access to our gorgeous patio which can be enjoyed in the warm weather months. Front of House and Technical Support is available. Additionally, The Revival features a full bar that serves soda, water, beer, wine and cocktails. Food can be provided on site from several neighborhood restaurants including breakfast, lunch, dinner or light snacks.