• fun and playful Harolds!

Harold improv course

An advanced course to learn how to perform The Harold in a fun and playful spontaneous Hoopla style with Maria Peters. 8 week course with a performance at the end.

The Harold is a long-form improv format originally invented by Del Close in the 1960s and then further developed by Del Close and Charna Halpern at iO Theatre in Chicago in the 1980s. Their work inspired improvisers like John Belushi, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Tina Fey and a lot of modern sitcoms are based on Harold structures.

The format involves exploring three different worlds from a fun opening and revisiting those scenes and characters to explore connections, patterns and themes that emerge like magic for the audience.

Maria Peters has studied with the co-founder of The Harold format Charna Halpern (iO), who is also director of The iO Theatre Chicago and author of Truth in Comedy. Maria has also trained with Rachael Mason (Second City), Susan Messing (Annoyance) and numerous instructors from The UCB Theatre, NYC.

She is now running a course to combine these different styles with her own unique take on The Harold. We aim is to help you perform a Harold that is fun and funny while exploring themes, emotions, relationships and deeper theatrical ideas.

We will teach a variety of styles and techniques for performing The Harold, giving you the freedom to choose what works for you and what you enjoy.

Most of all we aim to make performing The Harold feel fun, playful and joyous without having to worry about the structure or excessive rules when performing.

Harold from the heart.

dates, time, location

Date: Every Tuesday for 8 weeks from Tuesday 14th January 2020, with show on Sunday 8th March 2020. BOOK NOW

Time: 7pm – 9:30pm.

Teacher: Maria Peters.

Price: £230. Either payable all at once or with an initial payment of £100 followed by the remaining £130 once the course starts.

Venue: Theatre Delicatessen Studios, 2 Finsbury Avenue, off Whitecross Place, London, EC2M 2PP.

Tube: Liverpool Street or Moorgate.


Only suitable for people with previous long-form improv experience. If you haven’t got previous long-form experience it’s best to do our level 3 and level 4 improv course first.

teacher Maria Peters

Maria was one of the first people to perform Harolds in London, over 10 years ago at Hoopla. She now performs in Breaking & Entering and produces The Playground, which she has grown to be one of London’s most popular improv nights.

Her solo show, The Science of Cringe, premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival last year and played to sell-out audiences. She has also written for BBC Radio Comedy and is a regular on the improvised podcast Destination.

Maria has performed at numerous international improv festivals including Estonia, The Netherlands, Philadelphia, Portugal & Dublin.

She has studied with Charna Halpern, the founder of iO Chicago and author of Truth in Comedy, who originally developed The Harold with Del Close.

She has also studied with Keith Johnstone, New York’s Upright Citizens Brigade in New York and Second City in Chicago.

To top it all off Maria is a professional educator. Having spent over 10 years in learning, training & informal education, she understands the fundamentals of passing on knowledge in interactive & engaging ways.

Maria believes it’s paramount to put her students’ needs first and always creates a friendly, relaxed environment where the goal in every class is to learn new things while having a bloody good time.


We’ll be covering a variety of topics and themes over the course, and also responding to the needs of the group.

Weeks 1 and 2:

  • Bonding the group as a team.
  • Revisiting improv scene basics.
  • Who/What/Where.
  • Introducing vocabulary of The Harold.
  • Structure of The Harold.
  • Physical openings.

Weeks 3,4,5:

  • Different ways to link scenes.
  • Tangential scene jumps.
  • Thematic scene jumps.
  • Narrative scene jumps.
  • Heightening scenes and character.
  • Different styles of scenes including funny, relationship, theatrical, emotional, world view scenes.
  • Scenes that reflect society.
  • Playing and resting games.
  • Reincorporating and call backs.
  • Group games.
  • Variety of openings to start a show.
  • Discovering themes and patterns.
  • How to find and ending.

Weeks 6,7,8:

  • Running lots of Harolds with helpful notes from the teacher.
  • Performing Harolds without thinking about it and without worrying about structure.
  • Perform Harolds in a fun, playful, flowing and joyous way.

The exact topics and themes will vary depending on the group and will be developed as the course goes on.