To be continued ...
22/05/2007 - 26/05/2007
Wellington Improvisation Troupe (W.I.T.)
Will the butler do it? Will Colonel Johnson use the gamma-ray blaster on the drippy boyfriend, in the library? Will Gaylene ever find true love? Was the gorgeous dame on the level, or on the lam?
The team who brought you the hit improvised chick-flick “lovepossibly” in the 2004 International Comedy Fest are back, with the New Zealand premiere of this genre helter-skelter. In ‘To Be Continued…’, the latest improvised comedy show from the Wellington Improvisation Troupe (WIT), YOU get to decide what scenes you see and what happens! Would you like to see a thrilling suspense, a romantic comedy, a sci-fi adventure, a whodunit, musical or film noir? The options are endless (well, almost, we’re not really that good at musicals, though we’ll give it a go if YOU say so).
So come along and call the shots, to see who wins / lives / gets the girl / dies / rides off into the sunset / or sings.
For more details on the show and on WIT, Wellington’s only not-for-profit improvised comedy troupe, go to www.wit.org.nz, or www.myspace.com/witonline
Love or murder? It’s YOUR choice.
To Be Continued…
Aimee Froud - lights
Jamie Burgess - musician
Theatre , Improv ,
My challenge to NZ improvisers
Review by John Smythe 24th May 2007
One thing I often love about improv is the way it can capture our culture, tap into what’s topical, reflect us back to ourselves …
In fact this aspect strikes me as one of improv’s major entertainment functions, filling the gap left by the demise of the topical revue (like Knickers, Knockers, Knackers, etc that uses to pack out Downstage in the late night slot back in the late 1960s-early 1970s). It’s a dimension that can elevate a show from simply showing off skills and it can certainly help to stop the outcomes from starting to look a bit the same (seen one ‘Western’ scenario, seen them all?).
Where the opportunity for homegrown topicality too often gets lost is when the improv challenge involves a genre. Song segments or whole ‘Musical’ scenarios invariably slip into American voices. Why? (A notable exception was The Improvisors’ Improv The Musical, the night I saw it anyway – set in The Beehive and South Otago, it was immutably Kiwi.)
The latest Wellington Improvisation Troupe (WIT) format to grace our stages is To be continued …, which begins with an audience member being asked to pick three Genre cards from a fanned out deck. (Actually, the night I saw it – 2nd of 5 – it began with MC Barry Miskimmin completely failing to find his special spot, obliging lighting whizz Aimee Froud to bring up a general wash. Not a promising start. But I digress … )
So we get Western, Adventure and Musical. The idea is they develop each to a "to be continued" point, we vote one off, they take the remaining two through their 2nd acts, and only one – by popular vote – gets to meet its 3rd act resolution.
A couple of audience offers apiece launch each scenario. Thus the Western has someone seeking revenge for the theft of cattle, Adventure involves an archaeological search for ‘The Cruise (Crews?) Cross’, and the Musical is set in a school at playtime. And the proficiency we have come to expect of WIT ensures remarkably complex plots and string characters are established in the three 1st acts.
It’s when the primary school students start singing some wistful ditty in American accents that my heart sinks and I ask myself why. To give them credit they do validate it by making a gun, given to a child by his mother, the solution to 9 year old bullies evicting the 7 year-olds from the sandpit. And that is topical. Even so, why can’t we have our kids in our schools confronting bullies out way for a change?
But the Western is knee-jerk USA, of course, and I do feel I’ve seen it all before. In the Adventure genre, the archaeologists – a polyglot group, and fair enough – are searching in Mexico. And because the chip is now on my shoulder and muttering into my ear, I’m thinking why not our own West Coast?
I’m not arguing for xenophobia here. Of course we are part of a global village. But as someone noted on the ‘Producing locally, touring internationally‘ forum, given it’s all been said before, our great advantage as a relatively young nation with very distinctive bi and multi-cultural stories informing our formation, is that we can explore the same old stuff in a fresh way.
I also realise this is made harder when Canadian Derek Flores – a member of the reigning world champion Theatresports team – has become such a strong and undoubtedly welcome influence in re-energising the Wellington improv scene. But that’s a complication we have to accommodate without losing sight of ourselves.
My challenge to NZ improvisers remains: make Kiwi characters and stories your default position and only step out into other cultures when there is very good reason. Even – in fact especially – when you consider competing in the World Champs, accentuating that point of difference must be a primary weapon.
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