by Kathryn Helmore
VANCOUVER – Wildly inappropriate yet clever jokes are core components of the one of the most famous improvisation shows on TV: Whose Line Is It Anyway?. And for many of us, the antics of Drew Carey, Ryan Stiles, Colin Mochrie, and Wayne Brady were our introduction to improv performance. For some, our knowledge of this theatre form still ends there. This August, Vancouver’s Instant Theatre Company intends to change that with two vastly different yet equally enticing performances.
The first, Talk Felty To Me — a show not safe for children or sexually conservative adults — is a sexy, dirty puppet show.
“Our dirty puppet show plays with the juxtaposition of childhood innocence of puppeteering and libertine comedy,” says Chelsey Stuyt, general manager of Instant Theatre.
The show follows a series of characters as they attempt to put on a Muppet show yet are distracted by their ‘base impulses’. However, this isn’t just a silly production. “The show is challenging,” says Stuyt. “After all, you can’t just have two puppets fucking on stage. There must be a novel concept and intent that pushes it in new directions. This play is sex positive. It is kink positive. There’s a freedom in the lack of sexual inhibition displayed by the puppets. In this way, we push boundaries and encourage exploration.”
Next, inspired by tropes from the original Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, The Outer Middle Zone also promises to push boundaries, however, it’s more likely to make you question your sanity than your sexuality.
While still an improvisation show, Outer Middle Zone is structured genre theatre. It features six actors who perform in three episodes set in the 1950s and 1960s. The first episode is a classic “be careful what you wish for,” the second develops upon an “if only” scenario, and the third dives into concepts of isolation and degrees of human sanity. For each episode, the audience pitch the premise and the actors have approximately 20 seconds to come up with a concept.
“One of the best parts about improvisation is, as actors, we’re constantly surprised,” says Stuyt. “Yet Outer Middle Zone is interesting because we have no intent to make it funny. The play, especially the last episode, gets really dark and really twisted. We love it.”
The Outer Middle Zone takes place on August 6; Talk Felty To Me takes place on August 25. Both at Havana Theatre (Vancouver).improv, Instant Theatre Company, Talk Felty To Me, The Outer Middle Zone