Twenty local actors and directors gather on a Saturday morning at the
They bring nothing but creativity, experience, a few costume pieces and a pile of odd props -- a variety of hats, an inflatable plastic guitar, a tambourine, a Dr. Who Sonic Screwdriver among them.
Their charge: to create three new short plays. In one day.
There are no written scripts, no fancy scenery.
They will rehearse, but it's all improvisation.
They will be ready at
"All we guarantee is that we will be onstage, and we will have a show for you,"
This is the 16th annual
"I have done this for six or seven years, and this is the best day all year," says Burr, an executive recruiter by profession. "It is so much fun."
The daylong workshop resembles the 48-
The first two years, the entire group developed one play. Since then, Hyers divided them into three casts, each responsible for one play.
"Then everyone gets to shine," Hyers says. "Everyone goes away a little happier, and we come up with tighter stories, too."
Some actors come with ideas. But they have to be ready to abandon them as each director and cast reach consensus.
"At some point, you rehearse what works and throw away what doesn't," Hyers says. "We don't know what we are going to do until about two hours before we do it. And it can change on a dime."
This year's actors range in age from 21 to 80.
"Last year was so fun that I was like, 'I must do this again,' "
"I liked the whole concept of putting together a play in one day," Wilson says. "At my age, I don't have a lot of time to be spending on stuff," she adds, laughing. "I have to get it done."
Others -- including
Hyers loosens them up with improv games.
Laughter and applause ensue as each selects a prop to deliver a line as the world's worst veterinarian, disc jockey, attorney and undertaker.
Ralston-Asumendi wears a metal lampshade. "Today we're talking with Devo in the studio," he says.
Only nine hours remain until showtime. Time to get down to the business of show business.
How they do it
"One thing about sharks is that they have to keep moving," Morris tells his six actors. "If they stop swimming, if they stop moving, they die."
"A play is like a shark," he adds. "If a play stops moving, it dies. So whatever we come up with, we have to make sure it keeps moving. My goal is to create something that's about 10 minutes long, that is a story that has a beginning, a middle and an end."
Pick up a prop that speaks to you, he tells actors. "We'll see if we can start building some characters that we can then build a story around."
Ralston-Asumendi finds an empty BB gun;
They hash out ideas.
"We have got something going on that I really like with the music," Morris says.
Robinson offers a suggestion. "I like the idea of a band that has issues, and the public really wants them to get out and play, but we have to work out the issues," she says.
Kicklighter builds on the plot. "It would be fun to have a crazed fan who wants to get them all together and has locked them in his basement, and then they have to deal with the issues," she says.
Ralston-Asumendi will even write a song for the band, Sacred Kool-Aid, to perform.
In a nearby studio, director
Marlowe and Rauscher will play the couple;
A bathrobe becomes Power's white coat. And that Sonic Screwdriver? It's now a speculum.
Down the hall, director Hyers and his group create "Doomed."
They draw inspiration from Wilson's story about her prediction that a friend's marriage wouldn't make it. The couple lasted 43 years before divorcing.
They combine it with another actor's story about a couple married for 10 years, until the wife discovers that her husband is gay.
"You need to have some closing, a way to button up the whole thing," Burr says.
They come up with a surprise ending.
Actors' families, friends and other theatergoers fill 85 theater seats.
"I feel really confident about our play, and excited, and nervous of course, too," says Aguigui-Walton, an English teacher.
"I feel excited to see the other two plays as well, knowing that they were coming up with stuff as spontaneously as we were," she says. "And I'm nervous because most of it is improv. There's the fear that you might forget something important. And it's not like we are going to get to perform it again tomorrow. This is our one time to do it really well."
Hyers welcomes the audience.
"Every year, I call you guys the bravest audience in the world," he says. "We promise you nothing other than a show. We are all exhausted, so who knows what will happen tonight."
For the next hour, the audience laughs and applauds.
They come away impressed.
"They all came up with something unique," says
"These were parts that needed to be over-acted, and they did it with energy and verve which belied how tired they and their fellow actors must have been," Dorsey says.
(c)2014 the News & Record (Greensboro, N.C.)
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