Improv company takes show from stage to screen to keep audiences entertained
EDMONTON -- A long-running theatre group is improvisng in order to deal with being forced to leave the Varscona Theatre because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
DieNasty, which has been performing a weekly, live improvised soap opera for almost three decades is taking their show online.
They have decided to play out their 29th season by moving to a radio play recorded with all the actors over Zoom. Like the stage performances, the play is set in 1920 New York, where vaudeville is all the rage.
"There’s a charm into escaping into that world and that level of energy that I find really appealing," says the director of the show, Peter Brown.
Brown also says it’s fun to be involved in a show set 100 years ago, but uses high tech ways to reach their audience.
"So it’s vaudeville where everyone is talking in an old time accent for the show but then talking about microphone latency on their video conferences during the recording scenes."
Having 15 actors appear on screen at once is a challenge for the quick-witted improvisors, who have won multiple awards for their shows. But Brown says they are figuring things out as they go along and creating something very unique.
"You can close your eyes or turn away from your computer and what you’ve got is an old time radio show then you can watch the YouTube video and see the making of a radio show by people who have no idea what they’re doing, are doing it by accident but finding some joy in it," the director says.
And since each actor is isolated in their own home, real life occurrences make it in as part of the plot which centres around competing vaudeville theatres in New York.
"Dogs keep wandering into frame. In the first episode, Stephanie Wolfe’s dog walked in and barked and that became a plot point because he became a werewolf named Steven," says Brown.
Brown says the cast is having so much fun with the radio show that they may keep going, even when they’re allowed to be back in front of live audiences.
"Maybe we do a stage show that’s the stage interpretation of the radio interpretation of the stage show who know? It’s all up for grabs at this point," laughs Brown.
The episodes are uploaded weekly to dienastyimprov.com and they’ll be doing a livestream of the show on April 10 at 5 p.m.