Santa Cruz Good Times

Saturday
Apr 19th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Tip of the Tongue

ae FreefallimprovLocal improv troupe, Freefall, throws out script in favor of drama

The idea of being onstage in front of a sold-out audience without a script is the stuff of nightmares. But one person’s terror is another’s ultimate thrill—especially if you’re one of the five talented members of the Santa Cruz-based Freefall Improvisational Theater troupe.

“One of the biggest payoffs is when you’re on stage and you don’t know why or how you’re doing what you’re doing,” says Bob Giges, one of Freefall’s founding members. “You really have no conscious control of what you’re doing. It’s just like, ‘Hey I’m going there,’ and your mind can’t really catch up with it. You do things that are faster and funnier and more intense than your mind could ever do. It takes you over and when you have that experience of being immersed into that so much it’s just ... like nothing else in my life.”

After performing together for more than a decade, Giges and his co-founders—Mathew Schreiber and Marian Oliker—seem to operate as one entity. Crammed into a tiny booth at Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company and nursing a steaming cup of joe, Schreiber joked, “We even finish each other’s … sandwiches.”

“We’ve worked together for so long now that it’s like writing collectively on your feet,” says Oliker. “So it’s great fun, that collective collaboration in the moment is exciting with people that you trust.”

While most improvisational theater—commonly known as short form—relies on comedic skits (see Whose Line is it Anyway?), Freefall has a different focus. “I was interested in adding a dramatic element to what we did,” says Oliker, “I personally was interested in incorporating dramatic and comedic themes in a story. Short form tends towards comedy, and I was interested in doing more than that. We co-created our version of long form in 2000 that has evolved quite a bit.”

Freefall shows typically start with an improvisational movement piece. Schreiber chooses a piece of music that the members have not heard, and then they have to move to it. When someone decides to turn the music down, a scene is created based on the movement of the members left on stage. Once the scene begins, the actors craft a full-length play (generally 75-90 minutes long) on the fly. Themes are built upon, new storylines are constantly being created, and fantasy excursions take the actors—who often play multiple roles—and the audience far away from reality, without the use of props or scene changes.

The success of the performance depends entirely on the group’s ability to react to “offers” given by other actors. “A big part of the kind of magic of the flow of the play is the way in which we edit scenes,” says Oliker. “Someone will come on stage and rename [an actor] and we have to switch on a dime, and we have to understand that ‘I’m not the high school teacher, I’m the grandma now.’ We try to flow, almost like a dance, it just never stops.”

But with so much in the air, catastrophic failure is constantly looming. “[A fan once] said, ‘You have ruined regular theater for me,’” remembers Giges. “Because the risk is so much greater—I mean, the height we can fall from is really really considerable.”

The group experienced that pressure first-hand at their debut show. “We actually call it a train wreck,” says Giges, “because what happens is [just] like cars piling up on a train wreck. Offers get so built up on each other that it’s impossible to fulfill them and to pick them apart. So in this one scene, all I know is I was trying to pull it out and make sense of it at the very end, and I established that two characters were twins, and it didn’t really make sense.”

“There is something so dear and touching about seeing people be that vulnerable,” says Oliker, “We have a love for each other because it’s a very vulnerable art form. You’ll say stuff that comes from deep down in your unconscious, and it’s a very real, raw type of performance. So people get very open and connected.”


Freefall Improv performs at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 4, at Broadway Playhouse, 526 Broadway, Santa Cruz. Tickets are $12. For reservations, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . For more information, visit freefall.loon.com.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Cardinal Grand Cross in the Sky

Following Holy Week (passion, death and burial of the Pisces World Teacher) and Easter Sunday (Resurrection Festival), from April 19 to the 23, the long-awaited and discussed Cardinal Cross of Change appears in the sky, composed of Cardinal signs Aries, Libra, Cancer, and Capricorn, with planets (13-14 degrees) Uranus (in Aries), Jupiter (in Cancer), Mars (in Libra) and Pluto (in Capricorn), an actual geometrical square or cross configuration. Cardinal signs mark the seasons of change, initiating new realities.

 

Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of April 17

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >

 

Growing Hope

Campos Seguros combats sexual assault in the Watsonville farmworker community Farm work was a way of life for Rocio Camargo, who grew up in Watsonville as the daughter of Mexican immigrants. Her parents met while working the fields 30 years ago, and her father went on to run Fuentes Berry Farms.
Sign up for Tomorrow's Good Times Today
Upcoming arts & events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Foodie File: Red Apple Cafe

Breakfast takes center stage at Gracia Krakauer's Red Apple Cafe Before they moved to Aptos, Gracia and her husband Dan Krakauer would visit friends in Santa Cruz County and eat at the Red Apple Café all the time. Then they moved up here from Santa Monica five years ago, and bought the Aptos location (there’s a separate one in Watsonville) from the family who owned it for two decades.

 

How would you feel about a tech industry boom in Santa Cruz?

I feel like it would ruin the small old-town feeling of Santa Cruz. It wouldn’t be the same Surf City kind of vacation town that it is. Antoinette BennettSanta Cruz | Construction Management

 

Trout Gulch Vineyards

Cinsault 2012—la grande plage diurne The most popular wines on store shelves are those most generally known and available—Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which are all superb for sure. But when you come across a more unusual varietal, like Trout Gulch Vineyards’ Cinsault ($18), it opens up a whole new world.

 

Waddell Creek, Al Fresco

Route One Summer Farm Dinner You’ve been buying their insanely fresh produce for years now at farmers’ markets. Right? So now why not become more familiar with the gorgeous Waddell Creek farmlands of Route One Farms?