The Florida Studio Theatre Sarasota Improv Festival arrives next month, marking 10 years bringing the best of the best from the international improv world right to the heart of Downtown Sarasota for an extended weekend of performances, workshops and general revelry, spilling from the stage to nearby bars and restaurants. With 20 troupes from across the globe scheduled to arrive, highlights include the return of world-renowned headliners such as Impro Madrid, hailing from Spain and known for its emotional depths as well as comedic heights; Baby Wants Candy, from the Chicago scene and wowing with its off-the-cuff instrumentation and choreography; and Impro Theatre, the LA-based troupe that improvises full-length plays in the style of stage titans such as Anton Chekhov and Stephen Sondheim. But to stop growing means to start dying, so they say, and the Sarasota Improv Festival continues to expand as well, this time bringing in La Carpe Haute, a supremely physical improv group from Strasbourg, France, making its Sarasota debut this year. Cofounder Dan Seyfried sounds off on what to expect, when the unexpected is on the menu.


How would you sum up the guiding philosophy of La Carpe Haute?   Dan Seyfried  I would say: playfulness, sincerity, variety, physicality (and some shutting our mouth anytime we can). We love when during the same show we can make the audience laugh and cry. Our style, especially in English, is very physical and clowny. We are first of all very close friends and I think we can see that on stage.

what distinguishes French improvisation from other schools?  French Improv was born with improv matches and it’s still the most famous format in our country. However, for many years and especially among professional improvisers, French improvisers are looking for different style. And I think that the legacy of classical theater is important. We want good acting on stage, because improv is theater! 

What is it about the improv experience that keeps you coming back to the stage?  Improv is freedom and we love it. Improv is infinite: there are so many styles, ideas or formats to try, to experiment. Each time we try something new, it’s a new door that we open. Of course, we cannot master everything the first time we try it, so we need to experience each several times. In most festivals, we see new things that inspire us. For now, I don’t see the possibility to be bored. Being an experienced improviser needs time. 

What do you expect from the Sarasota Improv Festival?  [FST Director of Improv] Will [Luera] invited us for this festival. He’s one of the master of freeform and Big Bang Improv is one of our favorite American groups, so our only possible answer for this honoring invitation was a big, solid and proud “yes.”