I am the 2015 Improv Collective Prom King!

Improv Collective Prom 2015: All the goodness of prom without any of the teen angst or raging hormones.

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Posing with Prom Queen Teresa Zang.

The Starlight Theater, 05 June 2015, 09:40 pm: A Packed House

The Costa Mesa Storefront theater was packed to maximum capacity on the warm Friday night, the first one of June.

The grandeur of the show’s prom theme had worked to get people excited for the upcoming spectacle.

The prom throwback was not just limited to the players however; the audience was also encouraged – dare I say expected? – to show up in their best prom dresses and tuxes. The Facebook event page’s encouragement was in full effect – various audience members came decked in high-school throwback opulence. And some came with just neckties and east coast business casual.

No matter, the audience’s participation through dressing up was only evidence that they were excited for the show. Every seat was packed, standing room only, with people peering over each others’ heads to get the best glimpse of the action on stage. These are the shows you live for.

It was a great night of audience energy fed improv. Everyone had great moments on stage, so it must have been a tough vote. Somehow, Teresa Zang and I were elected Prom Queen and Prom King. I think our kick-ass Oscar Winning Moment had something to do with it.

The Scene: Marital Strife – Alcohol vs Wife.

Teresa and I

Teresa and I were on track to have another dynamite scene. Photo courtesy of Improv Collective Instagram.

Salvation army is the suggestion. The scene starts. Teresa folds clothes. She folds clothes. Teresa is folding clothes. Teresa owns the stage with her commitment to her space-work. I take my time to make an entrance. I open the storefront door and casually make my way to down stage right.

“Your late!” she shoots at me, throwing her gaze at me like a baseball in a game of catch

“I’m sorry, okay,” I respond, catching her gaze and giving the ball back to her.

“I need you here. How are we supposed to make it if you’re not here? Your my husband. I need you to help me.” And bam, these three dense, packed-with-emotion, lines set up the rest of the scene.

“To the hell with this.” My character gives up the charade of caring, pulls out a flask, and takes an unapologetic swig.

Channeling the stakes of the moment , my character continues, “I’m an alcoholic.”

And it happens: a straightforward scene about being late for work and spousal disappointment Hulks into a loaded piece about alcoholism, marital struggles, familial obligations, and the inability to cope with failed dreams and the burden of continued living despite not knowing what to live for.

The next four-and-a-half-minutes are a thick, incandescent, four carrot gold rock of spontaneous theater magic: an under-appreciated, exhausted, overburdened wife and soon-to-be mother does not know how to save her husband from himself. The husband’s demons are preventing him from being happy with his lot in life.

Ultimately, the wife makes a passionate plea for the  husband to pick either her and their future baby or the alcohol. The husband, recognizing he has a second shot at life, picks his family and boots mistress alcohol out of his life forever.

The scene was an emotional trek though the swaths and pits of domestic turmoil, pending marital failure, the anxiety of looming parenthood, and ending with arrival at the Valley of  Sudden Redemption and Second Chances.

The audience loved it.

Why I love working with Teresa

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Teresa’s got the stuff to kick ass on stage and become a veteran improviser. (Picture one: with Keefer Robert Langner).

Teresa – The reason I love working with Teresa is because she stays in the ring and boxes you with equal ferocity. She never lets herself be overwhelmed by her partner’s emotions or powerful responses, nor does she allow her partner’s lack of emotion prevent her from giving her all to a scene.

With young improvisers, especially hungry and eager students,  sometimes the presence of an established veteran improviser –  he/she has been there, done that, and is merely there out of habit and instinct –  maybe too much for them to handle in a scene.

These players nerd-out at the opportunity to play with a favorite player, or they make it a bigger deal than it should be for the scene to run smoothly. I know this from first hand experience; all the aforementioned things I have done at one time or another. And now, that I’m on the other side of the coin, I can tell when some improvisers look forward to doing a scene with me.

Teresa, however, does not let the reputation of her partner intimidate her, paralyzing her from giving her all. She’s a power player that puts it on the line because she knows that’s the way champions are made. One day, she will be the veteran improviser.

Teresa, I wish you the best, and I hope you make it far in your journey and pursuit of whatever it is you are chasing.

Scene Synopsis: Good

Was there anything original in the scene? No. Did we make any groundbreaking insights on substance abuse and failing marriages? No.

But did we entertain the audience and tear a packed house down in the process? Yes.

Did we extract the best performance out of each other? Yes.

Did we capitalize on the moment to give the best possible scene to an excited audience at a one-of-a-kind event? Yes.

And did we kick ass and add another notch to our improv belts? Yes.

And did we create and share a unique improv moment that will never be again but live in the memories of all those who witnessed and participated in it? Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times yes! Yes to everything.

It feels good to be king

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The accoutre-ma of royalty: my prom king sash and crown.

There is no validation like an anonymous popular vote that declares you the best amongst a bill of qualified and equally competent candidates. To know that people are rooting for you feels  humbling; to know that you won the game for them feels ecstatic. It’s good to be the King. It’s not everyday you can say that, and the lease on these titles are usually very short, so stretch out your fifteen minutes as much as your care because they’ll be up sooner than you know it.

For anybody interested, I’ll be holding court at a Barnes & Nobles near you.

Thank You

Special thanks to the Improv Collective for producing the event and having awesome promo behind it. Special thanks to Jeff  and Katy Ambas for organizing the event with all the appropriate flare and accoutrements of the event. Special thanks to all the wonderful performers – Jeff Ambas, Ethan Serna, Liam O’Mahoney, Miranda Lennert, and Hannah Fitzpatrick. And of course very special thanks to Teresa Zang for killing it with me during Oscar Winning Moment. And finally, to all the fans who came out and cheered us, giving us a reason to perform, thank you.

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One more for full effect. Thanks Teresa.

Till next time,

Fernando.

 

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