Sunday, June 27, 2010

Day 79: The Awkward Dinner Party

A long career as a teacher provides many benefits.  Chief among these is watching beloved students grow into amazing young men and women.  Lisa Rowland, pictured here with improv partner, Dave Dennison, is among those of whom I am most proud.  Lisa graduated from Stanford around six years ago close to my retirement year.  Since leaving Stanford she has distinguished herself as an actress, improviser and teacher of improvisation.  She is currently the Manager of Training Programs at the BATS School of Improv where she also shines as a member of the Company.  BATS is a premiere improvisation troupe and school of improv training.

Recently Lisa and her friend, Dave Dennison formed an improvisational theater company to present a long form improv format that they created.  It's called the "Awkward Dinner Party" and the the setup is that Lisa and Dave are a couple.  Each performance features a guest actor/improviser (last night it was the talented Tim Orr of "Three for All" another outstanding Improv Company).  The guest actor and his partner/spouse are invited to dinner.  In all cases only one member of the invited couple shows up. This is the full extent of the "setup" or preparation.  Everything that happens is completely improvised.   The story develops as everyone adjusts to this news and plays out the evening.  Lisa and Dave's persona changes each performance based on suggestions from the audience before each show.  Last night's performance had them playing Lucinda and Franklin as a couple with a longing to move to the Yukon and trap animals.

The performances were masterful last night.  The audience has a hard time believing that a show as polished as this one was could possibly be improvised. It was, I can testify.  Oh, and I forgot to mention that the performance was accompanied by the gifted Mr. J. Raoul Brody, musician extraordinaire, on the keyboard.  On Saturday night Mr. Daniel Walling (another brilliant Stanford graduate) will handle the keyboard.

The thing I absolutely LOVE about Lisa's improvisational acting is that she brings her own human values onto the stage and develops characters who have moral integrity.  Last night Lucinda begged her guest not to leave his wife when he threatened to do so late in the evening after lots of drinks.  Lisa is a dazzling improviser and a gifted actress.  I recommend seeing these entertaining players the next time they offer a weekend of shows.  Sign up for their mailing list to find out when.

1 comment:

  1. I wish I was there....I'd love to see them..They sound enchanting!