Columbus' second improv festival -- Columbus Unscripted -- is planned for today, Thursday, Oct. 24, through Sunday, Oct. 27 at various locations in central Ohio.
Produced by Columbus Unscripted, the festival will include professional-level improvisational workshops as well as performances by more than 20 local improv troupes and nationally acclaimed improvisers, Susan Messing, Megan Johns and Michael Clayton McCarthy.
Messing, a graduate of North-western University's School of Theatre, is an alumna of iO Chicago, The Second City's main stage, and founding member of Chicago's Annoyance Theatre.
She has been an improviser for more than 24 years.
In 2010 she was a recipient of the Chicago Improv Festival's "Improviser of the Year" award.
Johns, a native Virginian, trained in improvisation with iO Chicago and the Annoyance Theatre, performing in a variety of sketch, improv, and scripted original shows.
She is a member of The New Colony, and has been in Five Lesbians Eating A Quiche, which won several awards at the 2010 Sketchbook Festival.
McCarthy, a native of Cleveland, is a writer and improviser currently at Second City in Chicago.
He has written for Saturday Night Live, Sesame Street, Gilmore Girls and more.
McCarthy also created the writing programs for iO West in LA, iO Chicago and for Second City.
He will perform with his wife, Messing, in her signature show, "Messing with a Friend" as the Friday night featured performance as well as offer a sketch-writing workshop during the festival.
Organizers said improvisation is the art of spontaneous performance. Everything that happens between performers on stage is spontaneous.
There are no scripts or preparation.
Scenes are character-driven, and inspired by a single suggestion from the audience.
Improvisational theatres such as iO Chicago, iO West, Second City, and the Annoyance Theatre, have produced many well-known comedic performers, including John Belushi, Tina Fey, Steve Carell, Dan Aykroyd and Amy Poehler.
To register for workshops or purchase tickets online, go to columbusunscripted.com.
The performances are:
* Thursday -- 7 p.m. at Shane's 447 E. Livingston Ave. Columbus -- Chicago's Annoyance Theatre in "Fire & Beer." Also performing will be No Reservations, 8th Floor Improv and Fish Bowl."
* Friday -- 8 p.m. at Studio 35, 3055 Indianola Ave., Columbus-- Messing and McCarthy in "Messing with a Friend." Also performing will be This Improvised Life, See You Thursday, Not From Concentrate, Mouse Tales, #Hashtag, and State of Play.
* Saturday -- 7 p.m. at Wild Goose Creative, 2491 Summit St., Columbus -- The Angry Ladies of Improv. Also performing will be Easily Amused, The Dixie Cups and Bob's Tai Chi Fight Club.
* Saturday -- 9 p.m. at Wild Goose Creative -- Johns and Rachel Farmer Star in "WiseSnatch" and Eric Akeson and Nicholas Hassebrock in "Pancakes on Sunday." Also performing will be "See You Thursday."
* Saturday -- 11 p.m. at Wild Goose Creative -- "Late Night at the Goose," featuring Sasquatch Rescue League, Fake Bacon and Redacted.
* Sunday -- 7 p.m. at Wild Goose Creative -- Joe Henley, Nathan Stewart, Jim Sturgill and Patrick Craft star in "Babel Fish." Also performing will be The Stevens Family, Lady Parts and surprise sign up troupes from throughout central Ohio.