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Make me laugh

The Louisville Improvisors
lead a full slate
O.C. Arts Center events

Group’s founder teaches improvisation
at the Oldham County Arts Center

By Konnie McCollum
Contributing Writer

CRESTWOOD, Ky. (March 2006) – Back in high school, actor Chris Anger decided to take a high school drama class. What he discovered during a course in improvisation, or spontaneous acting without a script, was a lifelong passion for the art. More than two decades later, Anger still has that love and excitement for improvisational comedy. Anger and his comedy troupe, the Louisville Improvisors, will bring their skills to Crestwood for an 8 p.m. performance on Saturday, March 23. The show is for all ages and tickets are $12.

Alec Volz, Jashua Lane, Chris Anger

Photo provided

Alec Volz (left)
Joshua Lane (center) and Chris Anger (right) will
entertain in Crestwood
on Saturday, March 23.

Anger described improv acting as an extraordinary experience. “Being in the moment is almost magical.” He added that being on stage and coming up with the perfect lines is “like having a metaphysical or out-of-body experience.”
Originally from the California Bay area, Anger relocated to Louisville, Ky., about seven years ago. He is a part-time instructor at Louisville’s Walden Theatre and teaches a weekly class at the Oldham County Arts Center in Crestwood. Previously, Anger taught various workshops and classes in improvisation at several schools in Louisville, including Spalding University, and Indiana University Southeast in New Albany, Ind.
After working with numerous other actors in a variety of shows, Anger decided to start his own improvisational comedy troupe, the Louisville Improvisors. He and fellow actor Alec Volz, a full-time instructor and director at Walden Theatre, co-founded the new team.
Actor Joshua Lane, who has directed and taught improv for years, rounds out the trio. Lane has only been with the Louisville Improvisors for about 11/2 years. He was selected during the troupe’s only audition session.
Anger said the troupe, which has enjoyed almost seven years of success, works well together. He said the key to good improv comedy is to work with a group mind. He attributed their success to good team chemistry. Anger said that being able to trust your teammates and counting on their support is essential in this type of comedy acting.
Although the troupe gets its actual materials from the audience during live performances, there is still a need to rehearse. The trio practices to perfect their skills and to achieve the cohesion that is so important in improv comedy. Anger said that while many people are just amazed out how the improv actors can think so quickly and create comedy out of thin air, there are a few rules that they follow. The main rule is to always say “yes and….” The second rule is to never say “no.” It can end the conversation. Anger also said that improv actors need to really listen, be positive and work at the top of their intellect.

At the Oldham Co. Arts Center in March

• Saturday, March 11 at 8 p.m.: The 18-piece Signature Jazz Orchestra, led by Oldham County
percussionist Jim Polley, will perform. Lovers of large ensemble jazz will thrill to the music of Stan Kenton, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Nestico, Duke Ellington, Count Bassie, Maynard Ferguson and even Steve Allen. Tickets are $10.
• Sunday, March 12 at 2:30 p.m.: The Oldham County Arts Association, in partnership with Kentucky Humanities Council, presents a Kentucky Chautauqua® program called “Sallie Ward, Queen of Society.” In this one-woman presentation, storyteller Suzi Schuhman plays Ward, noted 1800s Louisville southern belle known for her independence and high spirits. The program is free.
• Saturday, March 18 at 7:30 p.m.: The Arts Center and Walden Theatre presents “As It Is In Heaven,” a play set in the 1830s Kentucky Shaker community of Pleasant Hill. Tickets are $11. Walden will also present a performance for school groups at 10:30 a.m. Friday, March 17.
• Monday, March 20: A student photography show opens in the Business and Professional Women-Oldham County Art Gallery. Showcasing the work of students throughout the county, the exhibit, called “Art’s Up,” will include color and black and white photography. The exhibit will be in the gallery until May 8.
• Friday, March 31 at 7 p.m.: The Oldham County Arts Association will feature another film in its series from the 2005 Bluegrass Independent Film Festival, the comedy, “The Wild Guys.” Tickets are $5.

The Louisville Improvisors actually perform what is known as the longform in their stage performances. In longform, the audience is asked to pick a general theme and then the comedians perform scenes centered on that theme for about 15-30 minutes at a time. They have no prepared lines or themes.
The other type of improv comedy is called the shortform. In this type of improv, a series of unrelated themes are put together in a game. The audience suggests the themes to the actors. Many television viewers have seen shortform performed on the show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”
The troupe welcomes all ages for most of its performances. Anger said they try to keep all of their material clean and appropriate for children because many of their students are children. However, Lane and Anger have worked up a ventriloquist act, called Rickets and Randy, which is a variation from their normal performances. Some of the material in that offshoot is directed toward a more mature audience.
Not only have the Louisville Improvisors performed at theaters throughout Louisville and the surrounding area, the troupe has taken its performance on the road, touring various cities such as St. Louis and Chicago. The troupe has also performed at many festivals and even held a national festival every January.
The festival, the Improvapalooza, is held at the Kentucky Center’s MeX Theater, in Louisville. Since the troupe started the festival, its popularity has grown nationally every year, Anger said. The event usually lasts two nights with several troupes of improv comedians performing each night. Because of demand, last summer the Louisville Improvisors played host to a summer festival dubbed “Improvapalooza 5.5.”
In addition to the Louisville Improvisors, several other events are scheduled for March at the Oldham County Arts Center.
“We have the strongest programming schedule in our short history coming in March and early April,” said Harrie Buecker, principal of the Arts Center. “The Center has something for everyone. We will be filled to the rafters with music, drama, and laughter.”

• For more information on these events, call the Arts Center at (502) 241-6018. or visit: www.oldhamcountyartscenter.com.

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