On Stage


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.”

More On Stage...
Ballet Blowout
A regional roundup of talent

Delci Syvertson is only 17, but she’s already been studying ballet for six years. At 18, Henry Winslow has a year more under his pointe shoes. But the two dancers have more than that in common. Both are high school seniors studying at Whatcom Community College through Running Start, as well…

more »
Kidding Around
Welcome to the School of Rock

In the movie version of School of Rock, it takes awhile for the elementary-age students in substitute teacher Dewey Finn’s class to embrace their inherent musical talents and realize they have what it takes not only to excel at playing instruments and singing, but also to share their…

more »
Smooth Jazz
Beyond the classroom at Back2Bellingham

Typically, it isn’t until graduation day has come and gone that college students see the rewards of their years of studies come to fruition.

That wasn’t the case for Teague Parker, a Western Washington University senior whose play, Smooth, Smooth Jazz, garnered him a Kennedy Center…

more »
BC Morgan Horse Show

9:00am| Northwest Washington Fairgrounds

Twelfth Night

7:30pm|Philip Tarro Theatre

School of Rock

7:00pm|BAAY Theatre

Boating Center Open

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Back to the basics


Ski to Sea Race

7:00am|Mt. Baker to Bellingham Bay

Rabbit Ride

8:00am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Images of Resilience Farewell

12:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Lightcatcher Building

Fairhaven Festival

12:00pm|Historic Fairhaven

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

1:00pm|Lincoln Theatre

Audubon at the Museum

2:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Art of Jazz


Open Mic

7:00pm|Village Books


9:30pm|Green Frog

Northwood Steak and Crab Bellingham Farmer’s Market
Fermented Vegetables

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Skagit Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Bayview Civic Hall

Gather Round

7:00pm|Honey Moon Mead & Cider

Chamber Concerts

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center Concert Hall

see our complete calendar »

Northwood Steak and Crab Village Books Bellingham Farmer’s Market Lester and Hyldahl Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Trove