My big improv project this year, the most “me” show I’ve done in a while, have been devising and directing a Edgar Allan Poe-themed narrative improv show in the 2020 Fringe Festival. I was finally brave enough to put my own actual hand-drawn art on a poster, and even made some show merch using the image.
Poe’d has now been performed in a proper theatre with fancy lights and everything over four nights – mostly we’re a group that performs in casual bar spaces. The show was a single story told from the perspective of a narrator and unrolled over an hour. It starts with poetry from each of the performers, all inspired by words from the audience. This in turn was the inspiration for the night’s story, which twisted into all the darkest and silliest of drama. After training together for a week of Sundays, we finally got to dress up and take it to the stage. So much fun, and terrifying at the same time.
I was helped by a whole crew of my favourite improvisors from The Wellington Improvisation Troupe, who cheerfully mucked in with everything from making costumes through lights and music and of course so so much Dramatic Acting. To a non-improvisor it might look as if the narrator-character was in charge and directing the story, while in reality this sort of show is a delightful back and forth between all the performers, building something from nothing.
The reviewers were kind, Theatreview thought it was “MACABRE MADE MISCHIEVOUS” While Artmurmurs’ reviewer said “I had a lovely time“ which warmed every cockle of my withered ol’ heart.
My husband and I (I say that in a queenly voice, ‘natch) did a short two-person version of the show as a warmup (at monthly improv show Late Night Knife Fight), billing ourselves as The Ravening. Poe’d feels like something that might work well as an improv festival show (training it and casting it from the workshop), if we decide to do another grande tour some day.
Photo by Ben Zolno
I love taking photos of these guys – although the venue has just changed, and I found the angle of the new stage and lighting setup just a bit challenging.
The show is hillarious – and if you’re in Wellington, runs through August and September at The Fringe, 8pm on Wednesdays.
I was taking sensible photos of friends performing improv onstage last night, when the lighting tech decided to use a strobe to indicate transition between scenes – I managed to whirl the speed settings to catch this one. Technically, ISO 800, F2, 1/2 second.
Improvisors are the loveliest people to photograph – they tend to have desperate twisty faces, which get pushed to extremes, as they try to convey as much information about a character or a story in the least possible amount of time. Stage lighting, shifting as quickly as the performers’ expressions, makes for some interesting photographic challenges. So much to learn . . .
Facebook gallery here, and buy tickets to the show or find out more about WIT if you’re in Wellington, NZ 🙂
Another great show from the Wellington Improv Troupe is due to start soon, a nine week soap opera, and I’ve been having a bunch of fun making some publicity material for it.
My bit of the project started with a half-hour photo shoot (that half hour included setting up the lights and photographing about 7 performers in different combinations). Then there was the real work of making online banners and icons, fliers and an A0 poster for the venue window. I love playing with retro design, but the 1980s when the show is set ain’t quite a classic era yet – the challenge was to evoke a ‘design essence’ of 1982, but not in such a way that it’s going to be mistaken for merely accidental old fashioned styling. The design also needed to let the possible audience know this will be more comedy melodrama than serious exploration of New Zealand education in the Muldoon years.
If you are in Wellington on a Wednesday during August and September, you should definitely come to the Fringe Bar and check out the
poster show for yourself!
On February 22 there was an earthquake in NZ’s 2nd largest city, Christchurch. There’d been one there last year, in September, it hadn’t seemed so very bad. A struggle for people directly affected, but no one died, and everything was pretty much back to normal. In straight numbers, that quake was as big as the one in Haiti where hundreds of thousands of people died, but Christchurch had much stricter building codes, and happily the quake struck in the middle of the night when most were home asleep. Everyone was starting to feel … safe again.
Current project, a poster for a “darkly comic” improvised theatre group, with a brief from the producer of “go a bit creepy”. Created using a mix of Illustrator and Photoshop, with the portraits done separately using my handy new digital tablet. Nearly there.