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Improv back at St. Andrews
The six performers who will take the stage at St. Andrews on the Square on Friday, Oct. 4 don’t have many hints to drop about the stories they’ll tell or the characters they play — mainly because they don’t know what they’ll be.
“In terms of the content, we have no idea what’s coming up, which is the exciting part,” said Derek Rein, host of Project X’s upcoming improv night.
The more-or-less quarterly event features some of the theatre company’s favourite performers, plus special guests, making up a show on the spot using a series of theatre games.
Actors may have to run through a scene speaking only in questions, or insert audience-penned sentences into their performance without knowing ahead of time how they’ll line up with the story.
Or, in games like Revolver, they may have to run multiple scenes at one, switching back and forth in rapid succession.
“Sometimes it really works,” says performer Alicia Ashcroft, “and sometimes it really doesn’t.
“But, it seems like sometimes the audience likes that better.”
“It’s like when you go to watch someone on the trapeze,” adds Rein.
“A part of you is hoping they miss the net when they fall.”
While they can’t rehearse lines or actions ahead of time, Rein said there is still plenty of rehearsing that goes into setting up the improv nights.
The troupe will get together in advance of a show to run through the various games it will play on a performance night and dissect what does and doesn’t work.
The more comfortable they are with each other, and the more they know each other’s strengths, the easier it is to build a good scene on the spot, Rein said.
Though improv and comedy tend to go hand-in-hand, Ashcroft said she’s learned it’s better not to obsess over the jokes.
“You can’t really worry about being funny,” she said.
“That’s the thing you have to let go of. We always think of improv as being funny, but the more you try to be funny, the less it works out.”
Though in a pinch, the performers admit, nothing saves a scene like bringing back a joke someone else made earlier in the night.
The next Project X improv evening runs on Friday, Oct. 4, at St. Andrews on the Square. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 and available at the door.
To offer idea for the performers to use during the show, head to Project X’s Facebook page or tweet @ProXTheatre.
This time around, the company is looking for these suggestions: A location, an unusual hobby or habit, an occupation and a sentence.