What is Grand Stretch?

Grand Stretch is a Dublin-based improvisational theatre company founded by Darren Yorke in 2017 with a view to: 

  • Cultivating a diverse COMMUNITY around our inspired philosophy, benevolent spirit and dynamic style of improvisational play — creating inclusive social spaces, providing participatory opportunities, and supporting continued engagement in the tone of 'WE'RE ALL FRIENDS HERE'.

  • Offering an innovative programme of improvisation-based WORKSHOPS for all ages, means and abilities — inspiring a culture of creativity, supporting artistic expression, and enhancing personal and professional lives in the development of fully transferrable skills

  • Delivering improvisation-based theatrical works of an exceptionally high standard in PRODUCTIONstriving towards momentous and memorable (albeit momentary) theatre in the exploration of authentic characters, truthful relationships and meaningful stories

  • Collaborating on bespoke EVENTSextending our multi-skilled players, our collective interdisciplinary expertise and our production resources to the customisation, realisation and facilitation of events, and making momentous experiences of special occasions

Grand Stretch is a member of the International TheatreSports™ Institute and holds a licence to perform TheatreSports™.

An official introduction, of sorts. Here is Darren Yorke's official (and suitably unscripted) opening speech at our launch on Friday 13th of October — An Evening of Grand Stretch.

The evening's events featured Grand Stretch's debut production of Keith Johnstone's TheatreSports™, and starred our improv friends Denise Jones, Michael Teigen, and Dan Dumsha from Vancouver Theatresports™, Diana Frances from The Second City, and Keogh brothers Duane and Dave from The Town Pants. (Oh, what a night!)


Who is Grand Stretch?

At its core, Grand Stretch is run by Darren Yorke, featuring Grand Stretch players and our improv friends in production — but we are made up of more than our core.

In a broader sense, 'Grand Stretch' encompasses the ever-growing community that has formed around our improvisation-based PRODUCTION and WORKSHOPS, engaging players, regular audience members and friends alike with a kindly, warm, and lasting welcome in the tone of 'WE'RE ALL FRIENDS HERE'.

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Who is Darren Yorke?

In brief, Darren Yorke is a multi-skilled maker of theatre and music, an improviser and facilitator, and the founder of Grand Stretch.

Darren hails from Co. Longford, and has primarily been based in Dublin since he enrolled at Trinity College in 2009. He graduated in 2013 with a BA in Drama & Theatre Studies and moved to Canada in 2014, where he quickly discovered his passion for improvisational theatre in working with Vancouver Theatresports™. He trained extensively and performed with VTS until 2016, igniting his momentous curiosity and insatiable appetite for making things happen.

A fusion of VTS’ theatrical style and Keith Johnstone’s improvisational philosophies formed the cornerstone of Grand Stretch, and Darren's travel and training pursuits have proven themselves indispensable to the innovation of Grand Stretch, extending to his ongoing training of Grand Stretch Players, the learning experiences of everyone he engage with in WORKSHOPS, and the elevating quality of our PRODUCTION.

Darren's most recent learnings include:

  • Everyone knows something you don't know
  • Now is the most important time in the world

For an in depth look at Darren's profile, follow the link below.


Who are the Grand Stretch Players?

Grand Stretch players are the improvisers who have trained in Our Improv System, and who share the inspired philosophy, benevolent spirit and dynamic styles of improvisational play that fuel our improv playbook.

In February, we made our production debut with Grand Stretch in The Main Space as part of Scene + Heard (2019), starring the first fourteen improvisers who had been active in our workshops. Since then, an active core group of Grand Stretch players have been at play:

Come and catch us in the act at The Grand Jam and TheatreSports™, as weekly as possible at Chaplins Bar — and be sure follow us on Facebook and Instagram so you're in the know about our other endeavours.

As more improvisers complete training in Our Improv System, the pool of players we provide continued training and performance opportunities for will continue to grow. If you have aspirations to join us, scope out our WORKSHOPS.


Why 'Grand Stretch'?

'Grand Stretch' is inspired by a quintessentially Irish idiom. ‘There’s a grand stretch in the evenings’ echoes 'round the country as Spring breaks — when Summer is on your doorstep, and daylight triumphs over night. It’s the boring, obvious and unoriginal 'something-to-be-saying' that provides an honest platform for meaningful conversation. It's bright-side. It's clear skies. It encapsulates times of positive change in our attitudes to sport, and play, and taking risks and making things happen. It's perfect!


Why the Tag Line?

Our tagline - 'it's all to play for!' - is a favourite in rural Irish Bingo Halls. While it underpins the thrill of the  gamble in our improvisational approach, it also emboldens us in our all-inclusive, leap-of-faith, sky's-the-limit values, and reinforces the values we aspire to in 'Grand Stretch'. Also, we find ourselves saying it all the time.




Why the Washing Line?

The company logo pays tribute to Darren's grandmother (and all-round favourite person), Rita McDermott – the National Treasure best known to Longfordians as 'Nanny Mac'. Never one to heed RTE weather reports, Nanny Mac decides on hanging out washing by the sky she sees over her head, there and then. Forever in the moment (and never a one of them wasted), Nanny Mac is our spirit animal. Long may she reign!