It’s a medium that’s wild, unpredictable, hilariously authentic and maybe even a little bit scary at first and it’s come to Prince Rupert in the form of a brand new stage troupe.
The Prince Rupert Improv Group is the newest theatre organization to hit the coastal city, led by the founding efforts of Lucas Anders and the Harbour Theatre board of directors.
Eight weeks into their existence, the group has already performed at the 2015 Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce awards ceremony in February.
“It was sort of baptism by fire,” said Anders last week during the weekly meet-up.
“There’s always challenges when you’re starting a group and one of those challenges is getting a consistent group of people out each week, so we had to do a little bit of leg work to ask those people to take some risks because improvisation can be scary in front of 250 people.”
Anders, who hails from Edmonton, is strongly influenced by the large presence of improvisation acting that the city can be known for. Rapid Fire Theatre, Edmonton’s longest-running improv theatre group, has helped train and shape Anders to the quick-witted persona he’s developed today to lead a cast of Rupertites to greatness in the chaotic medium.
Improv, a stage performance technique, is known for its unplanned and unpredictable nature based around games or scenes that can go in any direction stemming from where those on stage want to take it.
“It was one of those things where I really liked performing, but there are so many restrictions involved in doing a [traditional] performance on stage. You have to know your lines, you have to know where to be … it has to be perfection, whereas improv is the exact opposite. It’s chaos but there’s still some structure to it. You have to create a story that people will love and you do that by being genuine, not by being funny. The funny part comes naturally,” said Anders.
A solid foundation of five or six returning actors participate in the training each week for a two-hour time-slot, and the group is open for anyone wishing to join, although the organization prefer the members to be 17 or over as most subject matter is free game in the skits.
“We want it to be a [weekly] entertainment venue in the evenings for more of an adult crowd … because you have to have that kind of freedom and sometimes there are random slip-ups,” said the Saturday Night Live fan.
Anyone wishing to take part, with the end goal of performing their talents on stage for public shows, can contact Anders and the group by coming to their training sessions Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. at the Tom Rooney Playhouse or email Anders at email@example.com.
“It’s a very interactive show because we take suggestions from the audience and they give back to us, so it’s a lot of give and take. I think that’s what I’ve always liked about improvisation, is the community creating something together,” said Anders.