Just Meanders

Friday, I went to go see The Family, produced by Gnap Theater Projects. It is a scripted play, developed from improvised rehearsals. This is a new step for Gnap and for many of the performers as well. They did a fantastic job.

I need to see it again, to dig into it a little bit. I was observing the structure as best I could, while also paying attention to the tech. One major difference between improv and scripted theater is the tech. No props, no set, no costumes, basic lighting and sound. Improv, at least as I came into it, is a tabula rasa on which the performers create. They endow the costumes, the setting, the props. They create the lighting in the minds of the audience. It's a really cool experience to sit and be taken completely into imagination by improvisers.

I have no formal statistics, but I'm guessing that within the improv community here in Austin, about 65-70% do not come from a scripted theatrical background. The skill sets and point of view are often really different (which is another meandering post I'm working on), so it was fun to see so many improvisers last night managing costume changes, dealing with props, beats of a script etc. They all seemed to love it.

After the show, I wound up in several conversations with the actors about the experience. They all had a really good time creating the work as well as performing it. For some, it was their first scripted piece and I could easily see the happiness beaming through them. I felt really inspired to be connected with the company because I'm digging the merging of all the art forms into our pieces.

One cool thing about narrative longform is, for me, it appears to be evolving into storytelling. The last three shows I"ve been in were funny, sure. But the funny moments came naturally out of the comedic talents of the cast and also the story itself. There were very few wocakwocka moments.

The next improvised piece will be set in the Apocalypse. Death, plague, zombies, freaked out survivors. Could be dark in places, but I think the comedy will come.

Tonight, I'm heading out to a contact improv class and I'm seriously thrilled about it.

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