Tongue & Groove was founded in 2006, inspired by several forms of theater including long and short-form improv, Playback Theater, the Interactive Theater of Jeff Wirth, and the incomparable improvised plays performed by TJ & Dave. We cast a unique company of actors-who-improvise and improvisers-who-act, and set about creating a style of theater that would elevate the power of spontaneous creation. Since the founding, we’ve reached several goals. We’ve developed and continue to hone our signature style of serio-comic, realism-based ‘Actors’ Improv.’ We’ve performed all around Philadelphia in theaters and colleges and introduced this unique type of spontaneous theater to the community. We’ve garnered critical acclaim. The ensemble has become highly comfortable in our physical and emotional work, and has grown seamlessly connected (as our name implies). Artistic Director Bobbi Block has taught Actors' Improv in Europe, Brazil, New Zealand and Australia, and the Tongue & Groove format has been performed in Rio, Holland, and New Zealand!
Like so many resident companies, some personnel changes occurred: founding members Adam Gertler, Eoin O’Shea, Josh Rubinstein, Jenn MacMillan, Jordan Stalsworth and Fred Andersen have moved on … of course they will always be part of the ensemble and you never know when they might return! Fred Seigal and Ed Miller have been part of T&G for years and I can't imagine us without them now! June 2013 we brought on Noah Herman, and, in preparation for our monthly show schedule, we brought on three more members in 2014: Seth Reichgott, Matt Lydon, and Megan Bellwoar. Most recently, three more ensemble members join us: Joy Weir, Josh Holober-Ward, and Tanesha Ford!
So far, the company has developed 15 formats, beginning with IN BED (catalyzed by a single fortune cookie), and followed by the very popular SECRETS, in which audience members inspire us by anonymously sharing true secrets they keep. We loved the collaborative audience-artist relationship developed in SECRETS, and, since then, have committed to integrating as much input from our audience as possible. Our next show, UNSPOKEN, utilized audience's text messages and other unspoken thoughts and feelings, and explored what happens when we choose not to vocalize what we want. Our first PIFA show, IMPULSE, explored our audience's experiences with impulses resisted and followed. This was followed by SIX, in which we asked the audience to capture their lives in six-word autobiographies. Our next format, WHO, asked the simple question ‘Who are you?,’ inspiring our creation of fascinating characters. For PIFA 2013 we collaborated with dance company RealLivePeople for THAT TIME, creating instant scenes and movement pieces based on the audience’s response to ‘if you could go back to any moment in your life, what would you choose and why.’ Next we created BELIEVE, for which the audience fills in the phrase ‘I believe….,’ and then our special mother’s day show OH, MOTHER, which reveals maternal words and deeds. For Fringe 2015, we collaborated with fabulous blues dancers and musicians for GROOVE, which asks ‘describe a time when you were really in the groove.’ Next, we created ART, which asks you for a title of a fictional work of art inspired by a transitional moment in your life. In 2016 we created MAY/NOT which explores decision-making, and FOOD, which explores food-related memories (and included a pre-show cooking demo!). Our 2016 Fringe Festival show explored bucket lists in BEFORE I DIE. In 2017, as part of our Stolen Set Series, we performed CULTURE CLASH which explores being an outsider.
In all of T&G's work, our personal lives inform our artistic lives, and our audience’s lives inform our art. We look forward to working with ever-increasing audiences in this communal artistic experience.