The Improvised Tragedy by Lightning Theatre at the Victoria Fringe 2015. Preview.

The Improvised Tragedy by Lightning Theatre at the Victoria Fringe 2015. Preview.

Kevin Koch, founder of Lightning Theatre, was kind enough to answer a few questions.  Their show, The Improvised Tragedy, is at Venue 8, the Roxy Theatre, 2657 Quadra Street.  It starts Thursday August 27th at 8:45pm and runs to Thursday September 3rd at 7:15pm.

An Improvised Tragedy Victoria Fringe 2015

When was Lightning Theatre founded?

I founded Lightning Theatre along with my first production An Improvised Commedia Dell’Arte Scenario at the end of 2013.

There are now an incredible number of improv companies in Victoria. Can you speak to the niche you believe your company fills and your collaboration/mentorship with other improv companies?

Lightning Theatre is an improv company because the values it was created to demonstrate are based in improvisation, values such as collaboration, affirmation (yes and), and risk taking; however, we did script a show for last year’s ‘Theatre Under the Gun’ and this winter our Christmas commedia project ‘A Very Pantalone Christmas‘ (title may change) will be historically accurate to commedia performances of the past and be mostly scripted with room to improvise.

I believe we fill an experimental niche, we strive to surprise the audience with original productions with twists to familiar subjects. When Lightning first began I was also working closely with the university group Vikes Improv and there were multiple key members who overlapped between the two groups. Since last fringe we now share members with Paper Street Theatre Co directed by Dave Morris, who everyone in the company has had the opportunity to take classes with. Dave is a great teacher and a good friend, earlier this year we had an ‘unreading‘ of The Improvised Tragedy at his studio. If scripted plays can have stage readings, then improvised plays can too!

How many people are members or regulars in your company? How many will be performing at the Fringe?

There are about three or four of us who have performed in multiple performances. Our cast for ‘The
Improvised Tragedy’ consists of Matt Cowlrick on piano and flute, and Travis Stanley, Shahin Sanjari, and myself as the cast of three improvisers.

You performed An Improvised Commedia Dell’arte at the 2014 Fringe—what did you learn from the experience?

Wow so much, the biggest lesson was making the show as simple as possible to set up, last year we had a large set and costumes which added unnecessary stress, this year there’s no set and neutral attire. The format this year is also easier to improvise in, we can take stories to different places and times filled with whatever characters we get the impulse to create. It’s completely different from last year, being locked to the same location and characters every night.

In the intervening year, what direction has your company taken? Note-worthy productions or events?

We had our first scripted venture during Intrepid Theatre’s ‘Theatre Under the Gun’, which inspired me to want to do more scripted productions in the future. In April we did a show based off ‘The Resistance‘ a bluffing board game. The Resistance: Improvised was so much fun and felt like it hit my kind of dark humour right on the head. Afterwards, I wasn’t satisfied with our two night run so I booked the Intrepid Theatre for the Halloween weekend for a show based on a similar game called Werewolf.

For this year’s production—The Improvised Tragedy—can you provide the main “selling” features. Who would be interested in coming to the show? Who is your audience?

We aren’t parodying tragedy and although it may be funny at times, comedy isn’t the focus. Improvised dramas are a rare occurrence and for a fan of improv in Victoria this may be a once in a lifetime opportunity to see such an avant–?guarde piece of theatre! Absurd in a similar fashion to an episode of The Twilight Zone, the show follows important moments in the lives of three larger than life characters created from audience suggestions to improvised music. We’re reaching out to fans of sci–?fi, fantasy tragic drama, and improv. To be honest though, depending on what mood we’re in and what suggestions the audience gives us, the stories we show could range from a crime drama to a supernatural horror story.

Can you expand on “together with your help we will discover what it’s like to say “yes” to life, even in its strangest and most painful episodes”?

“Saying Yes to life even in its strangest and most painful episodes” is a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche he used to describe his perspective on why the ancient Greeks created tragedy. He’s saying that there is joy and art to be found even in the chaotic and destructive aspects of life. I think this sentiment reflects the thinking behind ‘yes and’ in improv, where even a mistake or a failure can be used as a building block to create a meaningful story. On the advertising I have printed out I slightly edited the phrase to “Say ‘yes and’ to life in its darkest and strangest moments” to fit to improv a little closer.

Stay tuned for further shows by Lightning Theatre at Hallowe’en and in December.

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