If you don’t know already, Sorkin is the creator of TV shows including West Wing and Studio 60, and movies such as A Few Good Men, Moneyball and more. He writes intelligent scripts and is known for creating snappy dialogue and engaging characters. Using this style, Jet City is able to bring a little humor and a lot of truth to the world of American landmark institutions.
But, what is an improvised play? If you ask most people they wouldn’t really know. A lot of people associate improv with popular shows such as Who’s Line is it Anyway, hosted by Drew Carey, or mistake it altogether for pre-written comedy skits such as seen on Saturday Night Live. I thought I would sit down with Jon Axell, cast member and marketing director for Jet City Improv to get a little more detail about what improv is, and why you should go see it.
According to The Encyclopedia Britannica:
Improvisation, in theatre: the playing of dramatic scenes without written dialogue and with minimal or no predetermined dramatic activity.
There are different styles of improv theater that include short-form (who’s line is it anyways, and improv games) and long-form, where a core theme is played out in multiple improvised scenes. Axell is quick to point out that in all improv, it begins with a collaboration with the audience. It is from them that the subject matter is determined. Improv is not supposed to try to be funny, but life and truth are really funny when combined with seasoned improv performers.
Axell says that, no suggestion is wrong or right because that is the improver’s job, to take the suggestion’s and turn them into a story. He says that the audience shouldn’t feel that they need to be funny or clever when calling out a suggestion, that some of the best suggestions are just ordinary ones and ones that come from the heart or have some sort of emotional value.
He recalled one of his favorite suggestions when a cast member asked the audience for a non geographical location. An audience member suggested ‘the zone.’ He said it was perfect! ” I mean, ‘the zone’ is totally a place” and he said the cast members were able to totally go there. Axell and other cast members have a running tally of the most common suggestions. The winners are Cheese, Elvis, cows and for some reason spatulas.
So what do they have in common, you may still be wondering…? Well, that’s you! The audience. It’s the collaboration between the cast and the audience that makes improv really worth the effort to go check it out.
Here is how it went down opening night for American Glory, and remember, there’s no spoiler alert needed, because each night you go will be a completely new experience!The lights came on and cast member Mandy Price came out and requested from the audience things that were American Institutions. People shouted out things like Apple Pie, Baseball, Prom and other American standards.
The cast went with Prom, and so began a fantastic drama starring the staff of the Senior Prom Association Board.
Elicia Wickstead became the esteemed President of the association and we met characters on her staff such as the Director of Picture Posing, the Director of Student Relations, Assistant to the President and even an Oversight Lawyer from President Obama’s office to Oversee the recent flood of expulsions from national high schools. Why were they getting expelled…? Well, because of ‘freak’ dancing of course! We got to witness intense drama including the calling of meetings with the Limousine Drivers Guild and requests to withdrawing funding from Smirnoff because it might be inappropriate and so much more!
The Jet City Cast was able to weave a hilarious yet totally solid and mesmerizing story of drama, love and liberation and ended it with an authentic feeling of American Glory.