26 April 2010

The Improvisors at Circa: Theatresports 2010, Shakespeare – The Musical, and Holmes Alone

Fresh from the successful run of their first ever kids’ show, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, The Improvisors’ Greg Ellis tells drama on the waterfront about the 20-year-old comedy group's new triumvirate of laugh-out-loud shows taking over Circa Two from 25 April.

The Improvisors have no less than three shows in the NZ International Comedy Festival this year. You guessed it, we love Comedy Festival time!

It's a great way to premiere new shows that extend us in one way or another and build on all the work we've done over the past few years. 2010 is no different. Except for the fact that we are twenty years old as a company this year.

In 1990, we performed our first ever show, the Improv Murder Mystery Suspect at Circa, and it has been our spiritual home ever since. In the intervening 20 years we've done lots and lots of shows but the ones we've probably enjoyed the most have been our improvised Shakespeares and our musicals. So, when Improvisor Deana Elvins suggested we combine both in a single improvised Shakespearean musical it was hard to deny that it was a great idea! Since the end of our Fringe Festival show Garry Trotter and the Philosopher's Whatchamacallit, we've been busily practising sonnets, soliloquies and songs. The lucky thing for us is that we have a talented bunch of musos in the company and Robbie Ellis and Simon Buxton create such fantastic music that it's very hard to fight the urge to sing.

Shakespeare - The Musical

Shakespeare - The Musical will be the perfect show for people who want to see something a little different in the Comedy Festival, something a little more than just one person and a mike. The amazing thing about this 80 minute show is that everything in it - all the music, lyrics, dialogue and story is made up right in front of the audience's eyes. The risk in the show gives it energy and really pushes the performers.

So whether or not you are a fan of Shakespeare or musicals, come along and check out Shakespeare - The Musical. Tragedy, Comedy or History - you get to choose. And as the audience you provide the plot suggestions along the way. Don't miss it!

Holmes Alone

And, for the first time we're presenting a double bill at Circa. Right after Shakespeare - The Musical you can catch me, all by myself, in Holmes Alone. Improvisation is not usually a solo pursuit - it's so much easier and less frightening to do it with others - but I've always wanted to try a completely improvised solo show. It seemed scary and challenging, especially since I haven't even done a regular solo show before!

And a little while ago I fell in love with Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. I've always loved the Victorian/Edwardian eras - the uptightness and the manners - and the Sherlock Holmes stories are written with a fantastic sense of pace and character. I decided I wanted my show to be a Sherlock Holmes show - a complete mystery with all its suspects and clues in about an hour. Eek!

It's been a scary prospect lurking on the horizon for almost six months now made slightly less daunting for a couple of reasons. First was seeing Guy Langford's awesome Wannabe, which proved that a real simplicity and precision help create multiple memorable characters. The second was having Aaron Alexander in as a director. Aaron is a great actor, improviser and thinker about theatre and his presence has helped me focus on getting the show out of my head and onto the stage.

Holmes Alone goes from being an exciting challenge to a terrifying one but what I can guarantee is that audiences will see me working harder onstage than I ever have before to bring Holmes, Watson and the rest of the required suspects and characters to life.

And as part of a double bill, you can get a great price to see both Shakespeare - The Musical and Holmes Alone on the same night. Why not kick-start your comedy festival with two shows for less than you'd pay to see some of the other shows on their own?

But wait there's more!

Theatresports 2010

Every year we use the Comedy Festival to kick-start our Theatresports season and this year is no different. Theatresports is the grand-daddy of them all, the improvisation format best loved by performers and audiences alike and it's stood the test of time.

In 2010, the basic format will be the same: two teams will compete against each other in a series of short improv games. The suggestions to fuel these will come from the audience, who will also help judge the results. It's fast-paced, never boring and a great way to experience improv for the first time or as a family.

This year we are not having ongoing teams but rather individual performers will carry their night's score to find out who will appear in the Wellington final on June 27. We are also inviting any of the 90 odd former Improvisors who have played in the past to get involved in the shows and we can already reveal that 7 Days stalwart and long-time Improvisor Steve Wrigley will take to the stage with us May 2nd.

So there's a lot going on for The Improvisors at Circa in the next few weeks - you've got no excuse not to catch at least one show!

Greg Ellis, The Improvisors

Shakespeare - The Musical, 27 April - 1 May
Holmes Alone, 27 April - 1 May
Theatresports 2010, Sundays, 25 April - 27 June

No comments:

Post a Comment