Orlando Improv Festival stirs up laughs
Published: Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Updated: Thursday, October 27, 2011 17:10
With no props and nothing but an empty stage, the actors dedicated to the skill of improv are forced to create a world of their own.
The 2nd Annual Orlando Improv Festival, presented by TheDailyCity.com, was held Sept. 25 through the 27 at the Winter Park Playhouse. The event featured improv groups from Orlando, Chicago, Washington and Atlanta, with six performances each night. The festival also became international this year, featuring Improv Guild from Canada, who headlined on Monday.
Mark Baratelli, the producer of TheDailyCity.com and creator of the Orlando Improv Fesitval, defines improv as an unappreciated art form that is incredibly difficult. Though Baratelli graduated from Florida State University with a degree in musical theatre, his interests quickly turned when he joined a friend's improv group. He has since preformed with Upright Citizen Brigade in New York, Dad's Garage Theatre in Atlanta and SAK Comedy Lab in Orlando.
When Baratelli realized Orlando didn't have an improv festival, he decided that was exactly what he wanted to create.
"It's like that saying, 'be the change you want to see in the world.' When I saw that Orlando didn't have this,I was like 'why am I not doing this?'," Baratelli said. "I wanted to create the festival and I had to step outside my comfort zone to do so. So I found smart friends who had the capacity to do the things that I couldn't do. The first year we were making this we literally had to improvise as we went along, but we pulled it off."
Denna Eramo, who is partners with Baratelli at TheDailyCity.com, said that Baratelli is the creative inspiration behind all they do, and she is all the logic. She went on to state that the goal of the Orlando Improv Festival is to bring Orlando into the forefront of the improv world.
The performances were put on by groups from not only around the country, but from around the corner. Robert Loecken, a junior history major at UCF performed on Monday with his group The WHOligans, whose act is based off the British Broadcasting Corporation's (BBC) hit show "Doctor Who." Normally, improv is thought of as short, funny skits lasting no longer than a few minutes, otherwise known as short form. The WHOligans participate in a type that isn't always seen: longform.
"Longform works best for our show because it gives more time for our characters to develop and to create a story," Loecken said.
Loecken has been participating in improv comedy for two years, after first being inspired by a show he saw at SAK Comedy Club, a local improv club in downtown Orlando. He jumped on the bandwagon, took their improv classes and now performs weekly with the Lab Rats. His love of improv has to do with the ability to be able to explore not only other characters, but yourself.
"In improv you're put in different situations that force you to use your head and come up with creative solutions," Loecken said. "You could be a pirate having marital problems, the possibilities are endless. It's almost become an addiction."
Students from UCF who saw the show were very impressed with the acts. Joshua Zimmerman, a junior film major, said he thought the show was amazing.
"Improv is always fun to watch," Zimmerman said. "It's always new and always makes you use your imagination."
For those who missed the festival this year, it will be coming again sooner rather than later. TheDailyCity.com has decided to move The Orlando Improv Festival to this coming February. For more information on other events the company puts on, visit TheDailyCity.com.