Improv students take the stage at Torch Theatre

Students from the Torch Theatre performed Thursday night. (Madeline Pado/DD)

Phoenix’s local improv theater, The Torch Theatre, had a night filled with comedic acts performed by their students Thursday night.

Torch Theatre has been hosting shows and offering a variety of different level improv classes since the group opened its own space in July near Central Avenue and Camelback Road.

Thursday’s performances featured students from two different skill level classes offered by Torch Theatre. Each class –- consisting of five to seven performers -– put on a 30-minute show for audience members sitting in the intimate comedy theater that seats about 25 people.

The founders of Torch Theatre performed at other comedy clubs around Phoenix, such as Space 55, before opening their own location.

Torch Theatre Co-founder Jose Gonzalez and three other co-founders have been together for four years.

“Most of the people who perform here have been with Torch for a long time,” Gonzalez said.

Torch Theatre primarily hosts shows put on by their own performers, but the theatre also attracts traveling performers.

“A lot of us have traveled to festivals and other things where we meet other performers,” Gonzalez said.

Torch Theatre focuses on “long form improv,” which is comedy that takes a single suggestion and develops it to create a show, Gonzalez said.

Thursday’s level five show used the phrase “hardware store” to start the show and made a full circle back to the same concept by the end of the performance.

Torch Theatre holds six different levels of classes that start every other month and last for eight weeks.

“These classes teach you to live outside the box,” said Carol Mayka, a level-two performer. “You’re training yourself to be free.”

Makya said she enjoys the classes because she is able to trust the people she works with and learns to work as an ensemble.

Some students, like Alex Tsuji, have been with Torch Theatre for years.

“I like the energy when you’re on stage,” said Tsuji, who is a level-five performer after taking classes since 2008. “When you are on the stage, no one knows what you are going to do and neither do you. It is inspired fear.”

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