The Spontaneity Shop has undergone a great many changes since it was first formed. Here’s a brief account of where we came from.
1996-2001 The Old Spontaneity Shop
Tom Salinsky and Deborah Frances-White form a theatre company specialising in improvisation, especially ideas and formats created by legendary guru Keith Johnstone. The company performs shows, teaches workshops and develops a following in London and in Oxford, where Deborah is studying. Deborah and Tom begin a relationship with RADA and before long many of the “core company” of players are RADA graduates. By 2000, the company is presenting shows at the Edinburgh Fringe, bringing Keith Johnstone to London to direct a show at the Hackney Empire, and staging a spectacular international tournament in Bloomsbury.
2001-2005 The Spontaneity Shop
In 2001, the name of the company was changed to The Spontaneity Shop. Our shows DreamDate, Tell Tales, Gorilla Theatre and TheatreSports (the last two presented by arrangement with the International Theatresports Institute) are very popular and we are regularly selling out London venues. Our workshop programme is expanding with three levels, hundreds of students every year, and spin-off companies forming. We are being increasingly asked to deliver training to companies and begin developing specialised syllabuses for these occasions. Alex MacLaren, who has been working with us since 1999, joins the team delivering workshops and working with corporate clients.
2005-2015 Comedy gets serious
We move into our new office in Camden Town and make engaging with corporate clients our priority. Our workshop programme is still active, but we are scaling back our improvised comedy shows – while at the same time, Deborah Frances-White is developing her stand-up career. In 2012, Deborah presents her stand-up show Cult Following in Edinburgh, and Tom presents his play Coalition. Deborah would go on to turn Cult Following and its successor Half a Can of Worms into an award-winning show for BBC Radio 4 and Tom would write four more plays (and counting). Tom and Deborah published their book The Improv Handbook in 2008. It is now in its second edition.
2015- Podcasts and back to live comedy
In late 2015, Deborah recorded the first episode of The Guilty Feminist, which Tom produced. Live episodes of The Guilty Feminist now sell out major venues like the London Palladium and the podcast has racked up over 60 million downloads. The Spontaneity Shop stopped offering improvisation workshops in 2018 in order to focus on these new opportunities, and now publishes four different podcasts with more on the way. We are still very active in the corporate world, with Deborah regularly hosting conferences and delivering seminars on diversity and inclusion, while Tom and Alex continue working with a wide range of corporate clients on all kinds of communications issues.