New im­prove group quick on feet

The Queens County Advance - - ARTS - By Aethne Hinch­liffe

Two peo­ple stand on the floor mak­ing up a scene as they go. A few sec­onds later, one ex­its to tap a wait­ing ac­tor. Re­lieved, the per­son who’s been wait­ing joins the scene.

What just hap­pened is a ver­sion of freeze – an im­pro­vi­sa­tional theatre game. Im­pro­vi­sa­tional theatre is of­ten called im­prov for short.

And it’s what a group of about 10 peo­ple have been gath­er­ing to do at the As­tor Theatre each week for about a month in Liver­pool.

Sue Beau­mont-rud­der­ham is one of the peo­ple who have been go­ing to im­prov.

“I like it be­cause of the think­ing on your feet, but also it’s of­ten very phys­i­cally tax­ing,” she says.

Beau­mont-rud­der­ham says she likes the phys­i­cal com­po­nent be­cause it’s a way of get­ting ex­er­cise that’s “out­side the box.”

Sarah Web­ber, an­other par­tic­i­pant, de­scribes be­ing on stage as a com­bi­na­tion of ter­ri­fy­ing and ex­hil­a­rat­ing.

“If you can’t think of some­thing on your feet pretty quickly, it can be ter­ri­fy­ing up there when you’re in front of a crowd of peo­ple,” she says.

Su­san Lane says one of the points of im­prov is for peo­ple to think on their feet. An­other is for peo­ple to lis­ten to their scene part­ners.

Lane is one of the group’s or­ga­niz­ers. She has stud­ied theatre, and she’s been in­volved with it for a num­ber of years.

Also in­volved with help­ing to lead the group is Jake Paul, who has a back­ground in theatre sports, and Richard Comeau, who teaches drama at Liver­pool Re­gional High School.

Act­ing is re­act­ing, says Lane. She says when peo­ple are in plays they of­ten be­come con­sumed with hav­ing to learn their lines.

“Re­ally, your part comes from what kind of en­ergy you get from each other on stage, how you can move the story for­ward and think­ing out­side of the text,” Lane says.

She adds when peo­ple are on stage, they’re there for a rea­son and have to fig­ure out why they are there, what they want and how they are go­ing to get it. Lane says this can be done in im­prov be­cause of how quickly it hap­pens.

Im­prov comes from the mo­ment, is “or­ganic” and is al­most al­ways funny, says Lane. There are a few ground rules, though. “You can’t leave the scene, you can’t say ‘no,’ so you’re al­ways ac­cept­ing what is be­ing of­fered to you by your scene part­ner,” says Lane.

“If some­body said, ‘Stop, I have a gun,’ you can’t say, ‘ That’s not gun, that’s your fin­ger,’ be­cause that just ru­ins the scene.”

The idea is for peo­ple to help their scene part­ners to move things for­ward. Mov­ing things for­ward also re­quires think­ing rel­a­tively quickly. This is some­thing Nick Moase says he’s learned.

Moase is new to im­prov. He was there last week for his sec­ond time and says it’s been fun so far.

As for fu­ture plans, Lane says it would be nice if the group could even­tu­ally per­form for an au­di­ence. For now, the group meets on Thurs­day nights from about 7 to 9 p.m.

Ev­ery­one 19 and over is wel­come and any­one look­ing for more in­for­ma­tion may join the Winds of Change Dra­matic So­ci­ety Face­book group or call Lanes Pri­va­teer Inn at 902-3543456.

Aethne Hinch­liffe photo

Sarah Web­ber, Sue Beau­mont-rud­der­ham, Su­san Lane and Nick Moase play freeze, an im­pro­vi­sa­tional theatre game, dur­ing a weekly im­prove night on April 19.

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