AN EVENING OF GRAND STRETCH | opening speech at the official launch of Grand Stretch at The Complex (Dublin).

What is Grand Stretch?

Grand Stretch is an improvisation-based Irish Arts company founded by Darren Yorke in 2017, with a view to:

  • Cultivating a diverse community of improvisers in the practice of a unique Philosophy & Style of improvisational theatre and play 
  • Producing and collaborating on multi-disciplinary works that are conceived, developed or presented through improvisation 
  • Launching an Irish contingent of the International Theatresports™ Institute (iTi) – a global community of improvisers working  with Keith Johnstone’s IMPRO methods, techniques and formats, including the world-renowned THEATRESPORTS™ for which Grand Stretch is licensed  
  • Offering improvisation-based Education Programmes, Training Opportunities and Outreach Initiatives for all ages and abilities
  • Providing life-long learning experiences in the arts, diversifying the theatre experience, and inspiring a culture of creativity

Who is Grand Stretch?

Darren Yorke is a multi-skilled maker of theatre and music; improviser, actor, playwright, theatre director, musician, composer, arts facilitator, and the founder of Grand Stretch.  He is drawn to making work that fuses theatre with the live performance of original songs and musical compositions. He relishes opportunities to collaborate on and perform in works that are conceived, developed or presented through improvisation.

Originally from Co. Longford, Darren is currently based in Dublin, having spent some time living in Canada, where he trained extensively in improvisation with Vancouver Theatresports™ from 2014-2016.  He holds a BA in Drama & Theatre Studies from Trinity College Dublin, and recently enjoyed Masterclass IMPRO training with Keith Johnstone.

For further information relevant to Darren's practice, please visit:

Darren Yorke | Bio

Why 'Grand Stretch'?

'Grand Stretch' is inspired by a quintessentially Irish idiom: 

‘There’s a grand stretch in the evenings’

It echoes around the country as Spring breaks; Summer is on your doorstep, and daylight triumphs over nightfall. It’s an innately positive blue-skies attitude, but it also serves as an obvious, unoriginal, boring something-to-be-saying when we're at odds in conversation. In terms of the company, 'Grand Stretch' encapsulates a time of positive change in our attitudes to risk-taking, and it's the company's ambition to put a grand stretch in everyone's evening, all year round.

The tagline 'It's all to play for!' is a Bingo Hall favourite. It is an extension of the gamble, the risk and the dare in 'Grand Stretch'. It's the all-inclusive, leap-of-faith, endless possibilities approach to the arts. 

The company logo is inspired by the minor risk involved with the washing line at this time of year. In Ireland, it's always a gamble. Darren best associates a grand stretch in the evenings with his grandmother, Rita McDermott (or 'Nanny Mac', as she's best known to most of Longford) - a national treasure - who was never one to be deterred by the prospects of gathering clouds when there's 'grand drying weather' out there now. It's all to play for!