Improv Festival offers 4 days of hilarity

Six of the 28 troupes performing are from Gainesville.


Published: Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 7:40 p.m.

Laugh out loud tonight as the Fifth Annual Gainesville Improv Festival kicks off four days of unscripted hilarity.

Each night, three improv troupes from across the nation will perform two shows, at 8 and 10 p.m., at the Phillips Center's Squitieri Studio Theatre. Tickets range from $15 to $18.

Tonight's tickets are available at a special reduced rate of $8.

On Saturday, there will be an educational workshop taught by Chicago-trained artists that anyone can attend to learn the art of improv.

The whole event is really about supporting improv locally, said festival co-founder Skyler Stone.

"This is about improv from Gainesville," he said. "We want to bring good talent in and show off what's here."

Six of the 28 troupes performing are from Gainesville, and five of the troupes contain alumni from the University of Florida's improv troupe Theater Strike Force.

Marla Caceres and Padraic Connelly both got their start with the campus group and have been with the festival's headlining troupe, Whirled News Tonight, for six years.

"I think (improv) is one of the most pure art forms because what happens is spontaneous," Caceres said. "It comes from somewhere deep, and even though there is a lot of technique involved, you're so in the moment."

Both of the troupe's news satire-themed shows were sold out last year.

For its act, Whirled News Tonight gives audience members newspapers to cut up and have ready before the show. The articles are then attached to a corkboard on stage, Caceres said.

Throughout the show they rip off articles from the board and read the headline and first few paragraphs out loud to the audience.

For the second year in a row, musical long-form improv troupe AM Radio will be belting it out on the festival's stage.

"It's all about working as a team to create something," said Nicole Christiansen of AM Radio. "It's so organic. It's never going to be performed again, just for that audience and that one moment in time."

To Christiansen, the one-day workshop alone makes the festival worthwhile.

"The workshops are one of the best parts of the festival," she said.

Eight instructors will teach eight different workshops from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. There will be eight more workshops from 2 to 4 p.m.

"They're teaching different aspects of improv, different techniques and different theories," Stone said. "We have classes for beginners to people who have been doing it for a long time."

The workshop embraces what the improv community is all about - performing, learning and improving, he said.

"It's like, can we get someone else to catch the bug?" Stone said. "All it takes is performing once, and if it's inside of you, you're going to be hooked."

New to the festival this year is father-daughter duo Grandma Hates Technology from New Jersey.

Stand-up comedian Mike Weiss and his 13-year-old daughter, Jessica, have been doing improv together for a little over a year and are excited about the learning opportunities the festival presents.

"I'm looking forward to just being there and being on stage and seeing what people think of our duo," Jessica said.

Part of what makes the festival special, Stone said, is that each night is completely different.

"I will guarantee they won't see the same thing twice," he said. "And that's the beauty of it."

Fifth Annual Gainesville Improv Festival

What: Groups perform improvisational and sketch comedy

Where: Phillips Center for the Performing Arts' Squitieri Studio Theatre, 315 Hull Road

When: Shows are 8 and 10 p.m. today-Saturday; workshops run 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2-4 p.m. Saturday

Tickets: $8 tonight, $15-18 Thursday-Saturday, available at the Phillips Center Box Office or Ticketmaster. Workshop is $100 and includes time with eight instructors teaching various types of improvisation.

For information, visit www.gainesvilleimprov.com.

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

Comments are currently unavailable on this article

▲ Return to Top