The NIU College of Visual and Performing Arts presents the inaugural project of the Interdisciplinary Student Project Artistry and Research (ISPAR) Grant with a single week of performances of a new improv comedy show, Double Duty: An Improv Experience, December 6, 9 and 10.
“This project is really the first of its kind here at NIU,” says Leah Harvey, director for this production and the grant recipient. Harvey is currently a senior Bachelor of Fine Arts, Acting major at NIU.
This exciting production explores the relationship between jazz musicians and actors, and how they collaborate to create a new performance medium. “This show has been a huge help for me, as a musician,” said Luke Hess, sophomore saxophone player in the ensemble. “Working with no script, or any idea of what will happen next really forces you to think on your feet, constantly be watching for what the actors are doing, and playing music to help make the scene a little more whole.” Both actors and musicians perform short-form improv games.
Harvey submitted Double Duty for the ISPAR grant during the Spring 2017 semester, is the first recipient of the award. The goal of the grant is to foster interdisciplinary collaboration among the three schools that make up the College of Visual and Performing Arts: the School of Art and Design, the School of Music, and the School of Theater and Dance.
“Leah’s project blurs the line between comic theatre and music, reminding us that the performing arts are ever shifting, that new facets will always be revealed if we are willing to search for them,” says Matthew Romriell, the faculty advisor for the project. “Double Duty is all about bringing together different people of different talents to create something new.”
“It has been a great experience to work with such a creative group of people,” said ensemble member Mariah Koss. “This show really lets you experience imagination and sometimes that can even be funny.”
Improv comedy is a popular form of performance in theatre communities across the nation, with Chicago being the home to some of the greatest comedy companies in the United States. Through the support of the ISPAR Grant, the cast of Double Duty was able to spend a day in an improv workshop with Dina Facklis, one of the instructors from The Chicago Improv Den. “Dina’s help was invaluable to our group, and really made a difference in our rehearsal quality,” said Harvey. “Plus, we had a lot of fun.”
Performances will be held at NIU School of Music’s Recital Hall, 550 Lucinda Avenue in DeKalb. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, December 6, and 2 p.m. Saturday, December 9 and Sunday, December 10.
There will be a talk back after the Saturday show with the cast to discuss the process of this production.
“Putting this show together has been a blast,” Hess said. “I hope the audience has as much fun as we will.”
Tickets are $3 at the door, cash only. Additional information is available by contacting Leah Harvey at firstname.lastname@example.org .