Grand Stretch is a Dublin-based improvisational theatre company founded by Darren Yorke in 2017 with a view to:
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 official 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!)
'Grand Stretch' encompasses the ever-growing community that has formed around our unique philosophy and dynamic style of improvisational play. We actively nurture a socially inclusive environment, welcoming audience members, performers and aspiring improvisers alike with a kindly, warm, and lasting invitation to join us regularly in the tone of 'WE'RE ALL FRIENDS HERE'.
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, instilling a curiosity and an insatiable appetite for making things happen, and he hasn't looked back since.
A fusion of VTS’ theatrical style and Keith Johnstone’s improvisational philosophies formed the cornerstone of Grand Stretch, but 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:
For an in depth look at Darren's profile, follow the link below.
Back in February, we debuted and starred the first fourteen improvisers we had ever trained up to performance level as Grand Stretch Players, showcasing our unique philosophy and dynamic style, and proudly launching PRODUCTION with three ambitious show formats from our improv playbook. Grand Stretch in The Main Space featured as part of Scene + Heard 2019.
Since then, an active core group of Grand Stretch Players have been at play. Our ethos is 'if you can play like us, you should play with us!' And as more improvisers complete our programme of WORKSHOPS in the coming months and years, they'll get added into the mix too. For now though, our core players are:
We've been getting up to all sorts! Did you manage to catch us in the act at Body & Soul this year? Have you seen us at The Tightrope? Remember, you can always catch us on our home turf at THE GRAND JAM — complimentary evenings of improvisational play in the tone of ‘WE’RE ALL FRIENDS HERE'.
'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!
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.
IT'S ALL TO PLAY FOR!
(LET US PLAY!)
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!