Tim Orr on "The Naked Stage"
Tim Orr performing with Improv Playhouse of San Francisco.
Aurora's Marketing Manager, Rebecca Longworth, asked Tim Orr, founder of Improv Playhouse of San Francisco, to chat about Improv Playhouse's upcoming show at Aurora, The Naked Stage.
RL: So what is The Naked Stage, and why is it “Naked”?TO: The Naked Stage is a fully improvised, full-length play. We create a new play each night that takes place on a single set, in traditional stage-play style. At the top of the show, we ask the audience to vote on a location, then we "set" the stage with a combination of real furniture and space-object things. Then the play starts!
I called it The Naked Stage because I feel the title expresses not only the process of building our play from the floorboards up in full view of the audience, and with their participation, but also because it captures the something-from-nothingness of improvisation.
RL: How does the format of The Naked Stage differ from other improv shows?TO: The Naked Stage differs from other long-form improvisation formats in that the improvisers play just one character each, and there are no built-in transitions or scene breaks that would allow us to “jump” from one time or place to another.
It takes a great deal of commitment to character, and also a sense of how to create story and momentum through the comings and goings of the characters and the action on stage.
But like any improv show, everything is made up on the spot -- the story and characters are as new to us as they are to the audience.
RL: How do you prepare for your shows?TO: I try to get some rest the day of an improv show, to conserve my energy if possible. For our group warm-up, we play games together and practice "brain-fry" exercises so that our minds are empty-open as we hit the stage.
RL: What draws you as an artist & performer to create a show like The Naked Stage?TO: I love it that "all" we have in The Naked Stage format is the bare stage and each other. For me, The Naked Stage combines the joys of usual narrative longform improvisation with the demands and surprises of traditional theater. Without the usual exit options (lights going down, transitions, and other scene-enders), we're left to fully confront the characters and situations in which we find ourselves.
RL: What are some of your inspirations?TO: My strongest comic inspirations are from Warner Bros. and Looney Tunes cartoons, especially Bugs and Daffy. Artistically, I adore Jean-Louis Barrault, Ruth Gordon and Jason Robards. Joni Mitchell is the real deal. And I'm still running on the fumes of the Giants winning three World Series.
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