LAST UPDATED: November 2022
Emotional safety (also called psychological safety) is important to all theatre performers. The resources on this page are a starting point for all members of the improv community to promote open and safer spaces.
If you’re feeling distress because of an experience in improv, please emphasize self-care and seek help as best you can.
NOTE: I’m based in Canada and have the most familiarity with resources for North America. To find more resources local to you, try an online search using keywords from the titles below.
Please help our community by sharing links to any helpful information you find. You can contact me here.
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Emotional Safety is an issue for ALL improvisers
An unsafe experience can be as dangerous to the mind as it is to the body. We can play characters in humiliating or dangerous situations, but it’s NOT okay to make performers act out those situations if they’re not comfortable doing so. No actor should risk their mental health for the sake of entertainment.
These issues aren’t confined to gender or race or other types of relationship. Anyone can find themselves in an unsafe situation. It’s not just about intimate or sexual contact either. Stage violence, lifting, and other physical activities can also make players feel unsafe. Improv is a group activity, and we must all be responsible for one another’s psychological safety.
Sexual Misconduct Resources
- For local help, try the following online search:
sexual assault help [city] [country]
- (USA) National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
- (USA) RAINN: https://www.rainn.org/
- (Canada) Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
- (Canada) see “Harassment Resources” link below
- “Resources on Sexual Abuse and Misconduct in Theatre.” Theatre Communications Group.
Organizations and Collectives
- Safe Play Improv. Creating a safer space for the European improv community.
- Comedy Safety Standards. A performer-led organization campaigning for a safer and more inclusive comedy scene in Ireland.
- Fair Play MN. Claiming equitable space for all women/trans/femme/nonbinary comedians.
- La Otra Escena (The Other Scene). Working to generate a feminist and care space within the theater scene, specifically theatrical improvisation. (Spanish language website.)
Boundary Check-Ins, Levels of Intimacy, and Consent Practice
- “Boundaries Conversation Guidelines.” Fair Play MN.
- “The Bases of Power applied to Improv.” Lucy Fennell.
“The FRIES Guide to Consent in Improv.” Lucy Fennell.
Developing Anti-Harassment Policies
- “Preventing Harassment and Discrimination in Your Improv Theater.” The Improv Network.
- “Harassment Resources.” Artist Producer Resource.
(includes links and information for Canadian crisis resources)
Teaching and Pedagogy Resources
- “¿Have you ever wondered if…? Questions for Impro Teaching.” La Otra Escena (The Other Scene). A series of question prompts for reviewing your teaching practices in terms of diversity, equity and gender perspective. (Spanish language website, ebook available in English.)
Example Theatre Policies and Codes of Conduct
- “Anti-Harassment & Non-Discrimination Policy.” Bad Dog Theatre Company.
- “Code of Conduct.” The Hideout Theatre.
- “Student Handbook & Safety Contract.” Improv Cincinnati.
- “Code of Behaviour.” Royal Court Theatre.
- “Public Theater Code of Conduct.” The Public.
- “Improv & Consent: Why ‘Yes, And’ doesn’t always mean Yes.” Hayley Kellett (The Making Box).
- “Intimacy and Boundaries in Improv.” Neil Curran (Lower the Tone).
- “‘C’ is for ‘Consent.’” David Charles (Improv Doctor).
- “Safe Space?” Lucy Fennell.
Please help promote Emotional Safety in the improv community. Share this page, and contact me with any additional resources you find.