LONG-TIME ImproGuise member and festival organiser Candice D’Arcy says last year’s successful Improv Festival proved that audiences appreciate the long form.
“People were surprised we could do it. We had a lot of feedback that showed people thought we weren’t improvising,” said D’Arcy.
While the short form of improv (TheatreSports) relies a lot on sending up characters, the long form is more character-driven, with the story also playing a significant role.
With some of the members of ImproGuise having a track record of 10 years and more, the actors felt the need, not only to challenge themselves, but also their audience – hence last year’s first celebration of the long form of improvisation.
This year, there’s more of the same planned, with the Improv Festival running from January 29 to February 8 at Kalk Bay Theatre.
The Austin theme has been replaced with that of crime, although the decision is tinged with regret, since the performers actually liked the old-school subject.
Still, the festival isn’t just about the participants indulging in their love of improvising; it is also about attracting audiences.
Crime Thursdays will be de- voted to crimes and the solving of murders, which holds a morbid fascination for most watchers of television.
“Isn’t everybody attracted to a crime drama at some point? We all watch those re-enactments.
“It gives us as improvisers an opportunity to play with a lot of stuff, and we thought we’d give the audience a chance to participate,” said D’Arcy.
Depending on the director of the scene, audience members could end up having quite a bit of input into what they see, although this works better with some subjects than others. For example, the Western is a much more character-driven performance, so less audience participation will be called for than on the crime day, which calls for lots of details.
Superscene is totally up to the director’s discretion, while the Musical – apparently a firm family favourite – also calls for lots of audience participation.
“Obviously, long form is new, so it was a nice bridge between what we normally do, TheatreSports, and the long form.
“We’re telling one story over the period of the show, but there’s still smaller stories within a show. It gives the fast pace and energy of theatresports, but in the longer form,” D’Arcy said of Superscene.
The schedule for the festival is as follows:
• Wednesday Westerns (pictured) (January 29 and February 5): a one-and-a-half-hour improvised Western.
• Crime Thursdays (January 30 and February 6): devoted to detectives, murders, thrillers, evil, the law and justice, without any pre-planning or rehearsals. Crimes will be committed and murders solved.
• Friday Family Musicals (January 31 and February 7): the Musicprov.
• Saturday SuperScene (February 1 and 8): highly competitive improv, in which directors create their scenes and pitch new ideas to the audience. Only the most brilliant scene survives and is completed.
• Tickets cost R60 (R50 for students), with family weekend specials (R180 for a family of four). To book, call 072 939 3351.