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True Play Improv

Parent Education that is actually fun!

If you are a library, school district or PTA looking to engage your parents around the ideas of growth mindset, resilience, adaptability or reading then we need to talk.

Our virtual or in person workskshops have parents LAL'ing (Listening, Agreeing & Laughing) and ready to do the same with their kiddos.

Click on the Workshops tab for more information

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About Us

Our workshops and courses use improv comedy skills to get families playing and engaging from a place of fun and laughter. We use these skills to to energize all kinds of subjects, from Reading and Math to building Resilience, Adaptability and a Growth Mindset. Our goal is to live in a world of happy families that joyfully face challenges together.

Our workshops come in 2 forms: Family Improv and Parent Improv.

This is a new way to offer parent workshops, in which everyone is on their feet (or in their square). Everyone is engaged and laughing while genuinely practicing impactful skills that they can bring directly to their families. Our parents often come back to tell us how play filled the dinner table has become! So come join us and play.

Clients Include: NYC District 30, New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library, PS 225, Queens Public Library, Urban Stages Outreach


Mary Theresa Archbold and Pat Shay met while doing improv in Chicago and a certain number of years later, they’re a married couple with two kids.


Along the way, they’ve performed together at IO, on a cruise ship for The Second City, at The PIT, The Magnet, and toured their original sketch comedy shows across the country, including an invited performance at The Kennedy Center. They’ve acted on TV shows including Bull, FBI, The Blacklist, SVU, and Girls5Eva.


Along the way, they noticed how the skills of improv changed the way they saw and dealt with communication and challenges. It led them to coaching and facilitating in global businesses and in Business schools including Columbia, Wharton, and Fuqua. 

They were originally surprised to notice how much they were using improv principles while raising their kids. They wanted their kids to utilize the core elements of improv: building things one piece at a time, saying yes to a challenge, how choosing an attitude and emotion for a situation is more proactive and how play helps us figure things out. They started True Play Improv in 2014, to share tools they found helpful with parents and families.


They disagree about things like coffee and Diet Coke and neither of them can be swayed.

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Get Engaged

True Play Improv focuses on 2 types of Workshops: We have Family Programs where everyone plays together in our customizable Family Improv Jam  and  we have Parents Only workshops where we play games and discuss how they build skills like Resilience, Adaptability & Growth Mindset through them.


Family Improv Jam

In the Family Improv Jams we get the whole family laughing and playing in person or on Zoom. It's a fast-paced festival of family creativity in which committment is rewarded and mistakes are celebrated as opportunities. We say "Yes" to each other. Sometimes kids even lead their parents. Everyone leaves with a smile on their face and games to continue to play as a family. (Parents get a follow-up document to remind them of the games and their takeawys) Perfect for your end of school year celebrations or a great way to kick off a new year!

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Hear what our families have to say

(Honestly, to "hear" it, you'll need to read these out loud).

"Just wanted to thank you guys again for these past six weeks. It's made a huge difference for me - and my family as a result. I feel like my mindset is shifting. I also somehow have more energy after each class, which is hard for me to do".

- Parent Improviser/Dad

"My family and I need more ease and laughter these days. Mary and Pat's Parent Improv class helped us crack up and chill out. Even our two-year-old got into the fun and games."
"My seven-year-old HATES talking about her feelings. Mary and Pat's Improv class taught me games that she loves to play and asks for every day. And they help her express her feelings through stories. It's like therapy, with laughter."

- Parent Improviser/ Mom

"The class was awesome. Pat and Mary were great coaches and facilitators. I appreciated the variety of exercises and the background explanations on the benefits, and how it ties back to key skills that we all need to have."

- Parent Improviser/ Mom

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Upcoming Events

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