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Improv On The Fly

A combination of top PIT groups experiments with live on-location video scenes within their improvised stage show

Pictured: Members of Neutrino.

People’s Improv Theater-based groups Neutrino and Centralia joined forces with video makers to present a special two part show at the theater on September 11. Calling themselves Trailer Park, the performers first presented videos of movie trailer parodies, and then extended the video motif into live shots from outside the theater and the sushi restaurant next door for some of the scenes in their long-form performance, which were projected onto a screen in the rear of the stage.

The live video was a bold experiment, although didn’t always work because it made it easier for performers to miss or misplay possible connections and logic of scenes and characters. Still, have to marvel that these performers could pull it off to any success at all, often running back and forth between the stage and outside to start up whole new scenes.

But the performers did find one compelling and amusing storyline, largely while on the stage itself, about fish attacking humans, complete with a musical interlude. Another main storyline, of a family that sees knowing math as a stigma, meandered a bit, but had its moments, largely when one player or another played up the math and numbers shtick. The video also amplified scenes on the stage by projecting close-ups of some of the players onto the screen behind them, similar to how film editing cuts between close-ups of actors.

The comedic movie trailers were a bit hit or miss. The highlight was clearly “8 ½ Mile,” a reworking of the classic Fellini flick to the music of Eminem – although a parody of Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic rant using scenes re-cut together from “Signs” looked entertaining until it was stopped due to a problem with the speed of its soundtrack.

Other “mash-ups” devised didn’t hang together quite so well as “8 ½ Mile,” like one merging animation from “Toy Story” with dialogue from the R-rated “Requiem For A Dream,” and another titled “Searching for Jimmy Hoffa” which had more to do with showcasing some of the performers from Trailer Park.

Overall, both the trailers and the video-assisted improv can certainly get better if the groups attempt it again -- particularly in the back and forth between outside and onstage scenes -- as they will certainly get a better feel for the overall flow between the two.



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