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

‘Cartoony’ mushrooms popping up across Vancouver Island are highly poisonous

Fly Agaric mushrooms can cause hallucinations, gastrointestinal pain and death

Marble humpback sculpture wins Oak Bay’s ArtsAlive 2019 People’s Choice Award

Daniel Cline’s Harmony Humpbacks will be recommended for purchase

Access: Technology lags for people with vision, hearing impairments

Accessibility barriers addressed at the Pacific Training Centre for the Blind

Saanich police arrest man who spat on, pulled knife on man who refused to give him a cigarette

Police recommend the 18-year-old be charged for assault with a weapon

Chilean teen brings protest to Victoria streets

Chile’s peaceful protest unseen, says visiting student

WATCH: Artist explains inspiration behind new Oak Bay mural

Oak Bay’s Parade of Play mural might be the biggest in Greater Victoria

POLL: Are you satisfied with the result of the federal election?

The ballots have now been counted and the dust has settled on… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of Oct. 22, 2019

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

85-year-old woman perishes in house fire in Cumberland Wednesday

Police and fire personnel were called to the scene of a fire… Continue reading

Beers on the job, smacking crotches: 10 police misconduct probes in B.C.

Recent report by the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner highlights a number of investigations

Seizure of cannabis edibles, including mac-and-cheese, prompt warning from B.C. RCMP

Potato chips, cheesecake and candy infused with cannabis also seized back in August

B.C. parents sue city and province in 12-year-old daughter’s drowning at lake

Beverly Park drowned at Rotary Lake in Dawson Creek in August 2016

Island mom warning others as suspicious powder found in mail

“I was very uneasy … it could be coffee whitener or it could be something else in the bag.”

Most Read