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On Stage

Improvathon

Welcome to the insanity

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

At the end of every Improvathon, Upfront Theatre player Galen Emanuele swears he’s never, ever going to stay awake all night performing improv again. By the time the next one rolls around, however, he’s more than ready to test his mettle and prove he has what it takes to commit to the insanity of improvising for 27 hours in a row.

“The feeling that you’re all involved in this crazy thing for no reason other than to do it, it’s addictive,” Emanuele says of the springtime tradition, which sees both performers and spectators pushing their body’s limits over the course of a weekend.

Sleep deprivation isn’t the only obstacle those onstage face when they take the Improvathon challenge. In addition to being front and center for every hour they’re signed up to play, they must also be ready to present quality improv to those in the audience—whether it’s at 3am, 3pm or during prime-time viewing hours.

“The Improvathon produces some of the best, most delirious and hilarious improv ever,” Emanuele says. “After that much time of constant creation and play, we lose our minds and some of the stuff that comes out of that is just brilliant. Of course some of it is also just plain weird, but those brilliant moments are something you can’t produce in any other way, or get anywhere else.”

Emanuele reports that, this year, there are 10 “hardcore” performers signed up to be there for the entirety of the Improvathon, with a few other mainstage members filling in at various points in the show.

At press time, the amount of audience members willing to try to stick around from Friday night to Saturday night was still growing. For those not in on the particulars, those who purchase a “hardcore” pass are in for a bit of a challenge themselves. If they stay for the whole Improvathon without falling asleep, and without missing a show, they’ll be gifted with a three-month unlimited pass to the Upfront.

“As a theater, [Improvathon] brings us all together to be part of something crazy and memorable,” Emanuele says. “The fact that we can share that with the hardcores and general audience is even better. To anyone who’s ever been part of that energy, or seen some of the awesome, crazy stuff that happens on stage, the reason we do it is obvious; it’s a blast.”

Other than the two opening and closing Theatresports shows, hardcore audience members and those who show up to watch at various points along the way can rest assured they’ll see a new format every hour, on the hour. “Hellingham of the Dead,” “Writer’s Block, “Dynamo,” “Space Trek,” and “Tarnation” are a few audience favorites that will make appearances along the way, but part of the fun of attending Improvathon is not knowing exactly what to expect at any given moment.

“The Improvathon is the chance to be part of something that, going into, you won’t quite be sure why you’re doing it,” Emanuele says. “But when it’s over,  you’ll be certain why you did it—because it’s awesome.”

SVCR Don McLean
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