Local theatre company Suitcase in Point presented a comedy night filled with long form improv done by nine performers with host Ben Rameaka on the evening of March 18.
The show took place in the intimate Suitcase in Point theatre with three sets of long form improv with breaks in between. This evening of improv was the result of a week long workshop with Rameaka who is an experienced teacher from the improv mecca Upright Citizen’s Brigade in New York City.
“I think the workshop was really great,” said performer and Suitcase in Point’s Artistic Director, Deanna Jones “It was a fantastic thing for some of the core people in Suitcase and Point and other people we’ve worked with in different ways to participate in.
We write a lot of the stuff that we do, we don’t do a lot of this improvisation ever so it gives us a really exciting way into exploring new ways of writing and also just in terms of performing together. It was great to have Ben here in our space.”
The performance showcased a lot of incredible comedic talent. Every performer gave unique and well-developed characters in every scene and each of them demonstrated great physicality and a general sense of playfulness, which is crucial to improv.
“So much of it is archeological,” said Rameaka, “especially with someone who is really talented. It’s just sort of unearthing all of this great comic sensibility that they already had. They put that to good use in sketch comedy. Improv is a different muscle that you’re flexing but to have that history of comedic impulses and that shorthand with each other and even just getting along makes an ensemble fly.”
The show also demonstrated an interesting kind of long form improv called ‘montage’. In this format, one of the performers would ask for a word or phrase and then around three or four performers would share a short memory from their real life that pertains to the selected word. Once the team feels they have enough material, they perform a series of unrelated scenes that somehow connect to the stories told.
“I think there’s a misconception that in improv, the comedy comes from the kooky premise… but really what’s funny is people acting so incredibly normal [that] it reveals how bizarre banality is” said Hayley Malouin.
It’s nights like these that remind us that St. Catharines is simmering with culture and things to do. It can feel isolating as a student, especially if you live on campus.
“Putting a mirror to reflect on ourselves in a jovial way is a really important way to move forward as people,” said Jones.
“As a developing community, these opportunities are really important and rich for a little place outside of major city centres and to keep going and to do it really well is exciting and that’s why we want to stay here” she continued.
-Luke Webster, Assistant Arts & Culture Editor