Break a leg and step into the limelight by joining one of Woking Improv Theatre’s new classes this month. 

With a wide variety of beginners’ and more advanced classes on offer, owner and founder Philippa Palmer is calling on all levels of performers to try their hand at a bit of improv and go along for a  night of fun and laughter.

Founded in 2019, the Woking Improv Theatre has been at the heart of the town’s community, putting on shows and running courses. 

However, this isn’t Philippa’s first venture into the dramatic arts. The keen thespian was first introduced to the world of improvisation while studying drama and theatre studies at Royal Holloway as well as during a postgraduate degree in acting.

But it was really after this that the improv bug stuck. 

During a career transition to English tutoring, Philippa found herself exposed to the academic world of improv, which sang the praises of the art form in encouraging self-confidence, communication and presentation skills, prompting the establishment of Woking Improv Theatre.

Since then, the group has found a home in the town, with the Maybury Centre often playing host to performances and evening classes. 

The company has even hosted London visitors from time to time, putting on workshops with professional improv actors and teachers, such as Amy Cooke-Hodgson from Austentatious.

However, obstacles over previous years have meant memberships and shows have dwindled, with the Covid-19 pandemic preventing all classes from running, and a popular performance space for the company, the KOMO cocktail bar, closing its doors this year. 

“The arts in Woking are really suffering. We still have a really good relationship with the Maybury Centre but there’s such a demand from the performance community in the town, and nowhere to put on shows,” said Philippa.

“There’s so much scope for Woking to be on the map as a theatrical community in general, especially with Italia Conti being there. 

“There’s just so much that makes the town desirable that people don’t know about.”

But she isn’t ready to stop yet. From September 19, a beginners’ class will start running every Tuesday from 7.30pm to 9.30pm for six weeks, and the following week a long-form course for more experienced improvisers will run for eight weeks, ending with a cast performance. 

There’s even something for those who can’t commit every week, with a drop-in class on Wednesdays, open to everyone willing to try their hand. 

Although standing up on stage with nothing prepared may feel daunting to many, Philippa says it is anything but that.

“Laughter is the best bit about improv – every single class I go to I’m crying with laughter at some point. The whole point of it is to support and give each other the time and space to come up with ideas. 

“I really think it can change the way we see the world and how we interact each other.” 

And it’s not just Woking that’s been getting their improv fix, with the popular art form extending even further into Surrey. 

Chris Mead is perhaps one of the biggest names for those in the improv community, and after many successful years working for some of the biggest schools and companies in London, he’s now bringing a good dose of (improvised) drama to Farnham.

After being inspired by Edinburgh Fringe sellouts Baby Wants Candy! as a student, Chris realised his love for the art and embarked upon a similar pathway to Philippa. 

He now runs evening drop-in classes suitable for all levels at the Farnham Maltings every Thursday, as well as a Friday long-form class more suitable for intermediates starting on October 20, with the aim of producing a final show.

He’s also ventured a little further out to Guildford with his beginners’ class which will start on September 26 and run until Christmas. All Chris’ classes run from 7pm to 9pm.

For Chris, improv is all about community spirit, and he is encouraging anyone to pop along to his classes. 

But act quickly, because he’s becoming more and more popular within Farnham, with his drop-in course increasing from three people to 20-plus in just a short space of time. 

With blossoming improv connections across Surrey beginning to appear, from Woking Improv Theatre in Woking right down to Farnham Maltings, Chris is excited for the future of the art in the county and hopes more residents will see the enjoyment and huge benefits gained from a little improv.

He says: “I’m really content to have a community vibe of people trying creative things and supporting each other here.

“Improv is for everyone – it’s not about being clever or funny, just about being authentically you. If you can be yourself, then you can definitely do improv.”

For more information and to book classes at Woking Improv Theatre or Chris’ courses, head to or