Neva boyd — source credit: lairoftheshadow

Neva boyd — source credit: lairoftheshadow

Viola spolin — source Credit: Thespolinplayers

Viola spolin — source Credit: Thespolinplayers

Katie Watson, JD — Photo Credit: K. Watson

Katie Watson, JD — Photo Credit: K. Watson

Brief history of improv

1920’s – Neva Boyd founds the Recreational Training school at the Hull House in Chicago, pioneering the use of games and play as teaching methods. 

1939-40’s – Viola Spolin, a student of Boyd's, evolves and expands the games into a form of theatre instruction and performance, known as "Theater Games." 

1950's – Paul Sills (Spolin's son) and David Shepherd form the Compass Players, the first professional improvisational theatre company. In England, Keith Johnstone begins independently developing a body of work in improvisational theatre in drama education.

1959 -- The Second City improv theatre company is founded.

1963 — Spolin's Improvisation for the Theater is published.

1970’s-present – Improv spreads around the world.

1979 — Johnstone's Impro is published. 

1990’s-present – Applied Improv evolves; the Applied Improv Network is Founded.

Medical Improv

2002 – Katie Watson, jD, bioethics professor at Northwestern and faculty at Second City, begins teaching an improv course called "Playing Doctor" to medical students at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine.

2008-2010 – Articles in medical literature appear discussing improv in medical education.

2011 – Watson coins the term “medical improv” in her article published in Academic Medicine, titled “Serious Play," describing her medical student class.

2012 – Dr. Belinda Fu (ImprovDoc) and Prof. Watson begin collaboration.

2013 – Watson and Fu establish the 1st International Medical Improv Train-the-Trainer Workshop at Northwestern; 18 attendees from across the US, & as far away as Ireland.

2014 – 2nd Annual Trainer Workshop is held in Seattle, co-sponsored by University of Washington Department of Family Medicine; 18 participants from US, Canada, Croatia.

2015 – 3rd Annual Trainer Workshop at Northwestern, now hosted by the Program in Bioethics and Medical Humanities; 28 participants from US, Canada, Australia.

2016 – ImprovDoc launches; 4th Annual Trainer workshop occurs in June, 2016, with 36 participants.

Ongoing – The field of Medical Improv continues to evolve ...