19 August 2013

Theatresports Freestyle: Explained

Improvisor Greg Ellis explains to drama on the waterfront the concept of Theatresports Freestyle.

Theatresports, as most people know it, is a series of short improvised games. It's the most popular type of improvisation and when people think of improv, Theatresports is the word that's always top of mind. But it's not the only improv format.

In the last couple of years The Improvisors has performed Improv Cage Match. It's a format that has been around the world of improv for years under a variety of different names. The basic idea behind the format is that there are 2 teams who can play whatever they like. The only limitation is that of time. Each team has 30 minutes of stage time. This time is divided over 3 rounds. The teams can divide this time however they like over those three rounds. So one team could play rounds of 15, 7 and 8 minutes while the other team could play 2, 20 and 8 minutes. After each round the audience is asked to vote on which team they liked more in that round. The winning team gets one point per round.

That's all very well but what sort of improv do the teams do during each round?

They do whatever they want. The idea behind this format is that teams can play to suit their strengths. They can play Theatresports games if they want but they can also create their own formats or just improvise something with no structure at all.

In the last couple of seasons we've seen improvised musicals, a fantasy movie, a gangster story and a current affairs show featuring 3 different mini-documentaries. Players love the format. It really gives them a chance to try new things and push the boundaries. It creates great play.

The format is also a great way to feature guest performers and in this season we hope to feature many of the Australian performers that will be in town for the NZ Improv Festival.

And it's had a name change. Improv Cage Match made the show sound a little sweaty, violent and low rent. Hopefully Theatresports Freestyle makes it clear what the show is all about. It's all the family fun of Theatresports (and maybe with some of the games you love) but it also features the freedom that comes when performers play with no rules at all.

- Greg Ellis

Theatresports Freestyle starts 25 August and runs every Sunday at 7pm until 13 October. To book, call the Circa Box Office on 801-7992 or visit www.circa.co.nz

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