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 902-354-3456.