It seems more than a little ironic that just as improv has entered its second great flowering (the first being the upsurge of interest in the late 60s and early 70s), the teachers responsible for this renaissance have begun to die off: Del Close two years ago, and earlier this year Martin de Maat, of complications from AIDS. The man behind Second City’s Training Center had achieved cultlike status in the improv world. Not only had he studied with Viola Spolin from childhood, he was a kindly, empathetic teacher who won students over by the hundreds; a great listener, he always seemed to know exactly what to say or what Spolin game to prescribe to break through a student’s block or shift the direction of a class. He was also thoroughly invested in the sheer joy of improvisation, practiced not to come up with material or to get a good TV or movie gig but just to create something out of nothing. At last year’s Chicago Improv Festival de Maat taught a master class, but this year he’s here only in spirit. In his honor, festival organizers are devoting one evening to fully improvised two-person relationship scenes by his students: Scott Adsit hosts and performs; also appearing are Jim Carrane, Noble Fools Jack Bronis and Patricia Musker, and current E.T.C. performers Andy Cobb, Martin Garcia, and Jack McBrayer. Half the proceeds will go to Rivington House, the hospice where de Maat stayed during his final illness. Second City E.T.C., Piper’s Alley, 1608 N. Wells, 773-395-8440. Wednesday, May 2, 10 :30 PM. $10.

–Jack Helbig

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Barbara Bower.