Monday, November 5, 2012

Striking Gold In The Yukon!

Deb: A few weeks back, we had the pleasure of working with The National Theatre Of The World, which allowed us the privilege of going to the Yukon with them! They are not only amazing talented actors, they are our good friends. When Colin was asked to fill in as a third member for the Yukon gigs, he jumped on it and I jumped right after him, relishing the chance to see Whitehorse in the Yukon with no intention of performing.

Our friend Naomi, one of the founders of The National Theatre Of The World, asked me if I wanted to join in any of the shows. I kept an open mind about it and decided I would wait to see how I felt when I got there. We blogged about them before so please check out that old post for the full concept of who they are.

Along with the Script Tease Project and Carnegie Hall, they also do Impromptu Splendor, which is what they were doing in the Yukon. Far away from home and without the pressure of people I might know in the audience, I decided to do the all three shows under the Impromptu Splendor banner, and it was a great decision. Impromptu Splendor works this way. Each night the troupe improvises a play in the style of a famous playwright, and for the Yukon tour, they were doing Anton Chekov, Tennessee Williams, and David Mamet. Let me tell you for nothing that it is the most exhilarating project. I had only done one with them before in Toronto and it was in the style of Noel Coward. It was a blast and so me being me, I decided I best leave well enough alone. But lately in my quest to challenge myself to do that which I fear, I went with it whole hog! It was such fun and all that improv should be. In a supportive atmosphere, anything in life is satisfying, isn’t it? Naomi Snieckus, Mike Fly, Colin Mochrie and Deb McGrath were the improvisers for this trip!  With a nod to my worn voice, (having done a mini-tour with my husband for our new show together—more to come on that) and the fact that I am not great with the impov games at this point in my unpracticed improv career, I chose to only do act one: the plays. No regrets there, as I sat in the green room wine in hand, laughing and loving them in act two. When we landed in the Yukon after a full-day two flights of travel, Naomi got right off the plane and conducted impov workshops that day and the next. Out of the workshops she chose some local improvisers to join in the games-set every night with great results. Not only did we get to see them perform, but we got to know their lovely selves a little.

The company was brought to Whitehorse by Eric Epstein who acts as both talent scout and host, excelling at both and traveling around to find wonderful artists to grace his stage at the Yukon Centre of the Arts. Let me tell you, it is an artistic community. They have an enviable and vibrant artistic scene and we look forward to a time when we can go back again and be a part of it. The audiences are smart and well-versed in what they are seeing. It was a privilege to perform for them.

As for the Yukon itself, stunning, friendly, air as cold and pure as the air in year one. When crossing the road as pedestrians, were treated to drivers who stopped if we even looked like we were thinking about crossing the road. We ate lots of good food, but became regulars at a wonderful spot called BurntToast, boasting a fab menu and lovely, young hipsters with warm and welcoming demeanors.

We are coming back Yukon. You can’t keep all that lovely to yourselves.

Barbara: I’ve seen a few Impromptu Splendor shows here in Toronto. I’ve been waiting for us to blog about them—because they ROCK! I mean, there is nothing quite like the experience of watching a recognizable shape and sound of a show (ie, David Mamet-inspired) and howling with laughter at the genius of these improvisers capturing it in the moment, absolutely making it up as they go along, and creating compelling story and character arcs. I wish I could’ve been there to share it with you: both the shows (and by "share", I mean "watch") and the Yukon. Wonderful!






















53 comments:

  1. OMG THE LAST PICTURE..IS SOOOO ADORABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Gosh..just stop it with the adorable now you two....you're gonna kill me someday!!! I'm already on my ninth life!

    What was I gonna say?...OH RIGHT!

    YUKON SOUNDS FUN!!! Wow the pictures are pretty awesome! No wonder you had a great time. Impromptu Splendor sounds really AMAZING!!! Geez...you guys are really talented I wish, I could watch the shows!!! What else did you guys do? Where you there for just the shows or did you get to travel a lot?

    They have those shows in Toronto too huh? Great.. something to add to my "to-do list" once I get there... Well technically running around yelling 'I'M FREE' and Making snow angels ...doesnt count as 'things in the to do list' ..does it?

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  2. JUST NOTICED YOUR HAT!!! SOO CUTE......!!!!! ok seriously...now..stop it with the adorable ;) :P

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  3. I know! The maple leaf hat. Silly and warm. Yes Shalaka they are based in Toronto. YOu will love them.

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  4. Oh Deb, it sounds like you had a lot of fun! I love the idea of doing a play based on a well-known playwright, totally improvised! Such talent you all have. Brava!
    The photos are lovely. You all look so happy. I think my favorite is the one of all four of you, with the men on each end and you ladies squatting in the middle. Just tickled me when I saw it!
    Oh, and I cannot wait to hear more about your shows with Colin.

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    1. Oh yes!!! Please...tell us more about your shows with Colin....SOON...Dont keep us waiting!!!! :D

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    2. I will I promise. We are still figuring the beast out!

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  5. AWESOME!!! Geez you seriously read my mind girl!! I was just gonna say "the last pic should BE YOUR PROFILE PIC..." and 2 mins later...BAAAM!!!!! But you guys seem on the far left in the thumbnail. Did you intend to put it that way...so the scenery come in too?

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  6. Sounds like so much fun! And so do the shows! :D

    I love all the pictures that you've added. That little chapel/church reminds me of the one that is in Batoche.

    I need to put Whitehorse on my "If I Become Brave Enough for Canadian Road Trips" bucket list. :) If finances permit, I'll start my first road trip to Vancouver in the spring...

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    1. Jo that would be fantastic. Starting on the West Coast is perfect!

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  7. You all look like you are having so much fun!!! I can almost feel the crisp clean air. I love all the photographs...... You all look like little kids on a road trip! When will we see you in Toronto?

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    1. We were acting like kids on a road trip too!!!

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  8. I wish I could go to Yukon too. It looks absolutely wonderful. With the added advantage of seeing you guys so happy. :D

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    1. What a nice thing to say Rajarshi! We were happy.

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  9. Beautiful photos and I admire you going after your fear in this area and performing.Improv scares the shit out of me. I would never, ever try it so bravo to you Debra for always expanding your talent. I expand in other ways:) But this way never.

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    1. Thanks Madge. It paid off as I had such a great time. But you take chances in so many areas Madge! That's the beauty of you!

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  10. This looks like so much fun! Both the photos and your descriptions of the shows. Like Barbara, I'd be in audience, but I'd love to see an Impromptu show.

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    1. They are so amazing these guys. Thanks FG.

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  11. Yay Deb! It's SO GREAT that you joined the shows! I love doing improv, but doing an entire show in the style of a playwright would send me screaming from the room. And the Yukon! It's civilized, it has culture, and (I love that name) the burnt toast cafe.

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    1. You might notice the photo of Naomi reading Mamet. We would read passages from all the plays the day we performed just to get in the mood.

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  12. Wow! I know its Canada (I googled) but it looks freezing in the photos! Have to agree thou, love the hat! Looks like you guys had a great time! The town looks like such a quaint little snowy village. Looks like somewhere you could just roam around all day and enjoy the scenery and friendly people <3

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  13. It wasn't freezing actually, just cold. But a lovely dry cold that made you feel alive. The town was great and people were fantastic! Thanks Kelly.

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  14. Gorgeous. You've made me feel like taking a road trip. And that's not easy to do ... I'm such a homebody these days.

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  15. I love the pics Deb. They are great.

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    1. Thanks Lyndsie. I love that you are ever positive. Always.

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  16. Just noticed the cute creature lurking in the 13th picture!!! What is it?? a dog??? lol it looks like its saying "HEY I WANNA BE IN THE PICTURE TOO!!! Wait lemme pose.."
    In case you're wondering... No... I cannot get enough of the cute pictures...and the maple leaf hat! and Yes..this is the millionth time Ive been here. Coz.. you're profile wouldnt load on facebook (DAMN IT SLOW INTERNET!)

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    1. Shalaka the Yukon is filled with Ravens. They are as big as our dogs! A raven was perched there and I snapped him!

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  17. That last picture= :] You all are adorable!

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    1. Thanks Kelly. We were thrilled to be doing this together!

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  18. Oh wow, those photos are so beautiful!! And you all look so happy to be there!

    Seeing an Impromptu Splendour show has been on my bucket list ever since I saw clips of you and Colin with them on Youtube (you know, you with the 'drinking problem' and Colin spitting in Naomi's face). But actually being IN one of the shows must be so exhilarating!!

    As an aside: through you I got to discover so many brilliant talented Canadian people - I can never thank you enough for that!!

    And SO much respect for not 'leaving well enough alone' and deciding to get on that stage after all!!

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    1. Thanks for everything you said Margo!

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  19. Oh and - since this is an improv-related post, I thought I might add this - please feel free, Barbara and Deb, to delete if you feel it is inappropriate!

    I recently bought the DVD "The Sweeney": a documentary about the life of Jim Sweeney - improv actor, Comedy Store Player and Whose Like UK funnyman. it features interviews with Paul Merton, Josie Lawrence, Greg Proops, Mike McShane, etc. and also touches on his life on stage and (later on) dealing with MS.

    I didn't realise the offer was "2 for 1" so I now have a spare original DVD lying around. I don't know any people who enjoy UK improv, but maybe one of you might appreciate the DVD. If you do - or know anyone who does - please let me know and I'll send you the DVD. Free of charge ofcourse - it didn't cost me anything and it would be my pleasure!

    Just thought I'd throw this out there. Again, please feel free to delete. I just thought someone else might enjoy the DVD instead of it gathering dust here. Jim deserves more than that - and it's a very touching documentary!

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    1. Margo, this is awesome! Thank you sooo much for your kind thought and gesture. No deleting necessary. xo

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    2. Margo We would LOVE to have it and are happy to pay your postage. Jim is a friend of Colins and we follow his posts! When we were in London a year ago, Colin visited him for the afternoon and he made a video which you might be able to see online. We would LOVE to have this copy of a lovely man who is our favourite improvisor. Best of the best is Jim. Colin guested with Paul Merton and friends in Edinburg a few years ago and it was Jim's last improv show live. He was BRILLIANT!

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    3. Then it's yours Deb! What's the best way to get your address/PO box though? Does the blog have an email address or something? Let me know! Oh and don't worry about postage - after all the laughs/blogs you gave me, I'm not taking a penny from you :-)

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  20. *sigh* Everything about this post is perfect. Perfect, perfect, perfect.

    *LizLemonVoice* I want to go to there.

    You and Colin need extreme adorableness warning labels on these pictures.

    *sigh* *yearning*

    So, so, so happy for y'all that y'all got to have this adventure.

    *sigh* *whimper*

    Wow. Just wow.

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  21. p.s. If that bottom picture isn't printed out, framed, and displayed in y'all's house somewhere, why not?!?!? Get to it! :)

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    1. Rigel you are a doll. That's all. A doll!

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  22. Mmmm, Whitehorse holds my heart. We really need to get back up there soon. I can't see photos of it without getting a warm and fuzzy yearning feeling.

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    1. How lovely Mike and Katie! Go back! Soon!

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  23. Mmmm, Whitehorse holds my heart. We really need to get back up there soon. I can't see photos of it without getting a warm and fuzzy yearning feeling.

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  24. GREAT GREAT GREAT GREAT pictures!!!! :D
    But it looks so cold!!

    LOVE the last picture!

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  25. Oh i don't know what to say - other than that was one of the most fun trips ever for The National Theatre of the World and for me! Thank you so much for all the extra laughs OFF stage - it was really a blast. You are a treat to work with Deb (Colin is "okay" too) - such a natural, supportive, quick, connected and giving performer.

    PROMISE me we'll do it again, okay? Where shall we take Impromptu Splendor and The Colin Mochries next!! :)

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    1. The Netherlands please!!
      ...well,you asked ;-)

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    2. Newfoundland!!

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  26. the innovative and possibly still unique element of improv theatre invented by the collaboration of Matt Baram, Ron Anderson, and Naomi Snieckus: may it bring more audiences to appreciate serious plays and playwrights, to thrill at the element of the actors that put themselves into a completely unprotected position to achieve or fail, and to give audiences joy and reprive from daily life. Onwards and upwards.

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  27. Sounds like you had an amazing time! There are so many great little artistic communities scattered around the country, and Whitehorse sounds like one of them! Glad you had such fun!

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  28. Those are some happy people in those pictures, as well as beautiful scenery. One of those pics should be on your Christmas cards, if that's the sort of thing you do.

    I just got home from a 5-day trip, most of which involved seeing a lot of improv shows. They were done in two styles: Armando and montage. It was a good thing I got to watch several groups perform, so I could catch on to what the idea was. (Why aren't these related?? Where did THAT come from?? What happened to the "Cheese Wheel" suggestion??") It was a completely different learning/viewing experience, and I enjoyed it all very much. As with you four, the enthusiasm with which everything was done really made the shows what they were. I'm so happy everyone has so much FUN doing these shows!

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  29. Love all of these pictures :)
    And the last picture of Deb and Colin is adorable!

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