Improv is the activity of making or doing something not planned beforehand, using whatever can be found. Improvisation in the performing arts is a very spontaneous performance without specific or scripted preparation. From the commedia dell’arte comic performances in 16th century Italy to Chicago’s famous Second City troupe, improvisation always has claimed a vital role in the genre of theatrical performance. Now in Hernando County, Live Oak Theatre invites the public to another one of their popular Improv Night events on Friday, January 21st, at 7:30 pm, at the Carol & Frank Morsani Center for the Arts, 21030 Cortez Boulevard, Brooksville. The doors will open at 7 pm. Tickets are $10 when purchased in advance, 24 hours before the show they will increase to $15. Concessions will be available for purchase before the show and during intermission.
Show producer Kyle Marra regards the Improv Night as a Live Oak tradition. “Live Oak Improv Nights became part of our performance schedule when Esprit Herbert started teaching in our (Live Oak) Conservatory back in fall 2019. Esprit has hosted them throughout the community for several years prior as fundraisers for various groups prior to becoming an instructor at Live Oak. Now, she utilizes these family-friendly performances as a showcase for the students participating in her classes to demonstrate. They get to have fun and make each other laugh, and they get to share that laughter and joy with the entire community,” he said.
Marra also sees improvisation as a prime teaching tool for drama students. “It teaches them the art of thinking on one’s feet. In theatre, things don’t always go according to plan. The art of improvisation can help them navigate those situations by giving them the tools to think and react quickly in a controlled manner. The best part is, when they leave the theatre, those same skills can be applied to everyday life,” said Marra.
Live Oak Conservatory teacher Esprit Herbert agrees. Beginning January 10th, Improv with Esprit Herbert is enabling students to learn the art of improvisation both in speech and movement. Students learn to think on their feet, to become confident in their actions and to go with the flow because in improv, anything can happen. “I have been doing improv nights as a fundraiser option for various needs since 2012,” said Herbert, who grew up in Brooksville and has been connected with Live Oak Theatre since 2014. “Since fall 2019 I have been an improv teacher at Live Oak Theatre, and started up shows for my students to use their new skills.”
At 8 years of age, her father taught Improv and acting classes, and Esprit immediately fell in love with the humor, and fast-paced excitement of Improv theatre. At 17 years old she put on her first Improv show as a fundraiser at her church and continued to do so for years. Now at 26 years old, she is in her 3rd year of teaching classes at Live Oak.
Herbert believes Improv is also valuable in the teaching of life skills. “Improv acting is geared towards thinking on the fly. And about teamwork. It is not about being correct, or being the funniest, but simply about trusting each other to say anything, and going along with it, even if it doesn’t make sense. To prepare for the show, we encourage each other through easy, think-quick games, to create a relaxed environment,” she said.
When it comes to Improv theatre, Herbert counts audience members as cast members. “The audience can expect to be a part of the show. We will use the audience to give us prompts and story ideas to create a totally unique and new show,” she said. “Even if they’ve been a part of a previous show, each one will be new based on the audience we have.”
Marra agrees that audiences should expect the unexpected. He states, “This all-ages event is in part developed by them. Throughout the evening Esprit will be requesting prompts from our guests to set up a very loose framework for performers. It’s a show that will never happen the same way twice.”
For more information and to purchase tickets go to www.LiveOakTheatre.org or call the box office at 352-593-0027 or email [email protected]
Live Oak Theatre Company (LOT) is a not-for-profit 501 (C) (3) repertory company of local artists that exists to enrich families, individuals and the community as a whole by providing positive artistic experiences in the Performing Arts – including excellent, affordable, and edifying family friendly entertainment, performance, and educational opportunities for Theatre patrons and participants of all ages. Also visit the Live Oak Theatre & Conservatory website. Visit www.LiveOakTheatre.org/conservatory.
To contact the Live Oak Conservatory email [email protected] or call 352-593-0270. Follow them on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/LiveOakTheatre.