The Improv Divas 2010 (NZ)
11/05/2010 - 15/05/2010
NZ International Comedy Festival 2010
The Improv Divas
Dates: Tues 11 – Sat 15 May, 6.30pm
Venue: BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Terrace, City
Tickets: Adults $16, Conc & Groups 8+ $13
Booking: BATS 04 802 4175 or firstname.lastname@example.org / www.bats.co.nz / www.wit.org.nz
Show Duration: 1 hour
Fierce and funny ladies fall back on macho stereotypes
Review by Hannah Smith 12th May 2010
The show is an experiment with a version of Gorilla Theatre – each diva takes a turn being the ‘director’ and directing a scene. The audience then vote whether the scene was worthy of a stiletto or an Ugg boot (the first one: WIN, the second: FAIL) and over the course of the show discover who is the ultimate Director Diva.
Chelsea Hughes, Merrilee McCoy, Jen O’Sullivan and Karin Anslow are all seasoned improvisers and compete with a good-natured gusto. MC Christine Brooks begins the evening by saying she’s going to enfold us in a golden glow of goodness, and she does. Brooks plays in scenes in addition to her role as MC, and last night she was in excellent form. The highlight of the show was her impression of a raptor opening a door with its claws.
There is something odd about this format– it seems that we are really judging the success of the scenes, and the players in them, more than we are judging the directors. The role of the ‘director’ is fluid and beyond selecting the game and players, it is up to the individual diva to decide their degree of their participation. Without a clear understanding of their responsibility it can feel as if they are just butting in from offstage. Certainly the best scenes were the most open form with the least input from a ‘director’.
But my main beef is that, even with this crew of fierce and funny babes onstage all evening, we are still treated to the usual string of stereotype macho characters. The hero-who-saves-the-day is a dude with a gun, and his girlfriend stands by and screams helplessly.
It is easy to see why people fall back on simplistic stereotyping in improv, where everything has to be immediately recognisable. If a character pulls out a gun and starts shooting, everyone – players and audience – assumes it is a man. But isn’t that a little bit boring?
Isn’t having an all-female-improv troupe an opportunity to say ‘to hell with the paradigm, we are going to have some lady heroes’? I know that is what these women are capable of, and that is what I want to see.
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Jennifer O'Sullivan May 14th, 2010
Hey Hannah! Just wanted to say thanks for the review, and thanks for highlighting the macho trap. It prompted a really good conversation among the Divas about how to go about telling honest stories without getting stuck being obvious, i.e. stereotypes, and being macho men instead of strong women.
We've made an effort to be conscious of it over our subsequent shows and I think we've managed to play some kick ass chicks. Two more nights, two more chances to bring out the awesome :)