This week on *drama on the waterfront, The Improvisors are proud to celebrate 25 Years of making you laugh!
By Tim Gordon
Harris Street. Circa Theatre. The Improvisors first show Suspect – an improvised murder mystery, is Main Bill for the International Festival of the Arts 1990. A cast of six, directed by Grant Tilly.
We were friends and colleagues who formed a company. We had no idea that the new phenomena of improvisation that had reached our shores, in the form of Theatresports, would be the basis of a business making people laugh for 25 years.
Theatresports created a unique artistic community of actors who loved the thrill and challenge of Improv. Its competitive side allowed the large National Theatresports Competitions to thrive through the 90s with teams battling wits, using the audiences’ suggestions to create the funniest scene, most satisfying story or most rounded characters – all made up on the spot.
It is scary. It is actually all made up. The audience don’t know what’s going to happen and nor do we. And for twenty five years they have loved to share the fear, applaud success and forgive failure. Our job is to stay in the moment and to say “Yes” to every offer and that requires a great deal of trusting your fellow players.
Each comic has their own role – the opening player, like the fearless Canadian, Lori Dungey alongon stage, miming the environment, creating a real world for scene to take place. My role along with players like Ian Harcourt was often the number two player – the one who comes in to drive the story forward, then there were the big comic characters, Mark Wright, Geoff Dolan and Anna Kennedy – who just made people laugh; the charmers who the audiences adored, Tim Jones, Liz Mullane, and then, finally, there were the wrecking balls, Robert Pollock, Steve Wrigley, who tip the safe world upside-down and watch everyone make sense of the complication.
Some scenes depend on the adroitness of language, some on the remarkable rhyming, some on songsters, they all require not only a quickness of wit, but more importantly a generosity of spirit and a graciousness in both success and failure.
From the James Cabaret, to The Paramount Theatre, up to the University Memorial Theatre, late nights at Bats and Downstage and finally we came to rest in our home at Circa Theatre.
For 25 years The Improvisors have flourished, not only through Theatre Shows but also as a successful Corporate Entertainment Company. It has been a wonderful ride and I am so pleased that on Sunday June 14th we are gathering the old guard to shake it off for a well-earned and proud Gala bash at Circa Theatre.