“3 2 1 ¡Impro!” Spotlights Puerto Rican Theater

3 2 1 Impro

For over two decades, Liga Puertorriqueña de Improvisación Teatral (LIPIT) has been entertaining crowds with their unique flavor, bringing hysterical laughter to audiences and leaving many wanting more. The Puerto Rican League of Improvisational Theater is a nonprofit organization founded “in response to a concern of its members to formalize cultural, theatrical and educational activities. Their goal is to spread and explore improv techniques via original performances,  educate the youth as well as the general public interested in the genre, and to represent Puerto Rico on an international stage.”

This is exactly what’s behind the documentary 3 2 1 ¡Impro! as it captures the company’s rich legacy in theatrical improvisation, which the group describes as “the phenomenon of allowing the imagination to flow spontaneously and reacting immediately to create an instantaneous theatrical product, devoid of formal constructs.”

We get a sense of LIPIT’s exciting trajectory immediately from the opening scene. Raising a bright red whistle to her lips, gesturing her hands in a “let’s go” motion, the actor, comedian, and LIPIT co-founder, Janibeth Santiago Oyola starts the countdown, ready for action. The documentary, narrated by Santiago Oyola, alternates between past and present via archival footage from the theater company’s early days of 2003 when many of its members were just starting out.

When the camera switches to the present, we feel the impact improvisational theater had on their lives. Kiko Blade (whose Twitter profile reads: “Humano, a veces. Comediante, siempre #KikoEsDiferente”) shares the analogy, “It was like when race horses exit the starting gate. LIPIT allowed me to go full steam ahead with my creativity.”

In another clip, tears well up in the eyes of actor and licensed naturopath, Lourdes Quiñones, as she recalls a particularly impactful performance. After the show, the mother of a child with cancer approached her, saying it was the first time she had seen her daughter laugh in months.

Actor Maurim E. Chiclana Andino puts it perfectly, her face lighting up when she shares, “[for me, it’s that] collective creative process, where everything adds value.”

In their two-plus decades, the theater company has evolved into a full-fledged organization offering improv workshops at all levels, from beginner to advanced. They also have what is known as Taller de Formato, where experienced improv actors explore long-format style as a group. In these workshops, in addition to developing characters, they “take a deep dive into the technique of dramatic composition and theatrical representation of improvisation.”

Chronicling these offerings, 3 2 1 ¡Impro! gives a sense of the impact of Latine improvisational theater on our communities and the art form at large. But, it would take another dozen articles to capture the legacies of our vibrant Latine contributions to the genre. Instead, I’ll simply echo the words of 3 2 1 ¡Impro! cast member and veteran actor, Emmanuel “Sunshine” Logroño, “Todo el mundo improvisa, lo que pasa es que no todos lo saben. Hay que decírselo.” AKA, as Logroño reminds us, “Everyone improvises, they’re just not aware of it. You have to tell them.”

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