Ode to Samuel Beckett throws away script

Improv production at Intrepid Theatre taps into Beckett's penchant for dark humour

Characters discover the meaninglessness of life in the black humour production

Usually actors use improv for warmup exercises before practising their scripts. But the Paper Street Theatre company does the opposite.

To prepare for their latest show, An Improvised Samuel Beckett, five local improvisers read Beckett’s scripts in rehearsals then threw away the lines to create a completely new, improvised play live on stage.

“We try to create a play that’s like something Beckett would have written himself,” artistic director Dave Morris explained. “This isn’t a parody of his work, it’s a homage.”

Beckett, who died in 1989, is best known for penning Waiting for Godot and Krapp’s Last Tape. He was among the European playwrights who pioneered theatre of the absurd, a genre that defined hopelessness, where characters realize the world has no meaning and they’re stuck in an endless routine.

It may sound depressing, but Morris promises the show will at least be funnier than the group’s inaugural offering, An Improvised Tennessee Williams, which they performed last summer based on the writer of Streetcar Named Desire.

“If you like dark humour, you’ll get some laughs from the show,” Morris said.

The cast – which includes Morris, Missie Peters, Chris Gabel, Scott Thompson and Byron Kjeldsen – wear overcoats and bowler hats to get into character. They’ve all studied Beckett’s style and where he got his inspiration.

On stage, the characters adopt Beckett’s bleak outlook on life.

They use physical comedy in place of words, and when they do speak it’s in quick sentences, offering sullen insight into the human condition.

It’s not what you expect to see when you go to an improv show.

“Usually improv focuses on narrative and storytelling, and making people laugh,” Morris said. “With Beckett, he creates these dark worlds where nothing happens, and there’s not a lot of dialogue.”

Morris says he wants to challenge himself and his fellow improvisers with works outside their usual style.

“We want to create improv that feels like theatre,” he said. “Our goal is to make the audience forget we’re improvising.”

So, why not just work from a script? “Because I’d get bored,” Morris said. “With script work you only really get to be creative in the early stages of rehearsals and then it’s always the same. With improv we’re creating something new every night.  No two shows are ever the same.”

An Improvised Samuel Beckett runs Nov. 17 and 18, 8 p.m., at the Intrepid Theatre, 1609 Blanshard St. Tickets are $12 at the door.

reporter@goldstreamgazette.com

Just Posted

Home care transition could exacerbate worker shortage: Seniors advocate

Advocate fears impact of eight-hour shift model on an industry under stress

United Way to recognize outstanding community members

The annual Spirit Awards celebration will feature 13 award recipients

Downtown Victoria Shoppers Drug Mart to take over previous Chapters location

The drug store is moving next door to take on a two-storey expansion

Oak Bay student Ottawa bound as parliamentary page

Community-driven Leah Smith to join Page Program

WATCH: Police call Happy Valley shooting an ‘isolated and targeted’ incident

One person in custody, another fled following crash on Kelly Road

Wanted by Crime Stoppers

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you think the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris should be rebuilt?

Images of one of the word’s most iconic landmarks were seared into… Continue reading

Experts butt heads in court, hunter loses case for return of ram

Despite expert testimony, judgement says ram probably underage

‘B.C. cannot wait for action’: Top doctor urges province to decriminalize illicit drugs

Dr. Bonnie Henry says current approach in ‘war on drugs’ has criminalized and stigmatized drug users

Murder on B.C. property didn’t need to be disclosed before sale, court rules

Buyer had tried to break contract after learning a man with ties to crime had been murdered there

B.C. man turned to dating site for pimp operation, court hears

In court the details of how Simon Rypiak lured 4 women into prostitution revealed

Tofino beckons Trudeau for quiet Easter vacation

Environmental group hopes latest Pacific Rim vacation inspires change in prime minister

Should B.C. parents receive money if they make sure their kids are vaccinated?

New survey looks at public opinion around government’s role in forcing immunizations

Most Read