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August 5, 2011 > Improv theatre has new offerings

Improv theatre has new offerings

By Chinmai Raman
Photos By courtesy of Kaitlin Lockhart

If you have ever watched the television show "Whose line is it anyway?" you know that great improvisational comedy is an experience never to be passed over. Fremont's own Made Up Theatre offers a unique and excellent opportunity to see great "improv" every Saturday night.

Made Up Theatre offers various types of improv shows, in which performers play fun games, perform spontaneous forty-minute plays, make-up sketches on the spot, and even improvise full length musicals... all to the sounds of side-splitting laughter from the audience. Since opening in January of this year, Made Up Theatre has grown by leaps and bounds, with many new offerings for people of all ages. "We are coming along really well," says co-founder Sean Taylor. The progress he speaks of includes moving to weekly shows and their next show sold-out.

The group at Made Up Theatre came together as Five Play Improv, now one of three unique shows offered; a group of "five friends who just wanted to play together." "That's what's so compelling about [us]. Two minutes into a thirty-minute based on a simple suggestion from the audience, Bobby and I can know how it's going to end," Taylor says of co-founder Bobby August. "We're the best of friends; a tight-knit group," says August, and their chemistry and knowledge of each other makes them all the more fun to watch.

The full-length plays and musicals they perform make the group one-of-a-kind - not only in Fremont, but in the greater Bay Area where very few other groups do what is called "long-form" improv on a regular basis. "It is very difficult to make stories that are consistent, and understandable," says Taylor, "But we like to challenge ourselves and have the audience enjoy it the whole time," finishes August. "Our goal is to have what is as good as a play that's been scripted, but is totally made-up in front of the audience, and that's what we're known for," he adds. Their long-form improv can be seen in their show "Showcase" on the second and fourth Saturdays of every month at 8 p.m.

In addition to comedy shows, the theatre also offers improv classes. Three levels of classes are available; students who completed the second level recently performed a show for friends and family. "It was really great," says Taylor. "These were people with no improv experience and they learned so much in fifteen weeks; doing what we are doing on stage." Made Up Theatre is also hosting a free two-hour improv class on August 31 for anybody who wants to come by and have some fun.

"People get to break away from their everyday routine and come out and be people who aren't themselves," says Taylor. According to August, there are people who want to become professional improvisers, but notes, "There are also a large percentage of people who want to learn it to become better at talking in front of people or be more open with people," and improv encourages that. "It's a break from a daily routine, and they can let loose and have fun."

In addition to classes and shows, the group will be performing in this year's San Francisco Improv Festival from August 18 to 27. The festival brings together improvisational groups from across the country to perform in their own styles and methods in front of audiences and the other groups over two weeks. Made Up Theatre's Five Play Improv group performed last year in the festival and describe it as a great experience. This year, they are paired with a group from Chicago, "Happy Karaoke Fun Time!" who do musical improvisation based on popular karaoke tracks. Both groups will perform August 19 at Eureka Theater in San Francisco; tickets are available online.

"We want Made Up Theatre to become big in the Bay Area," says Taylor. And from converting a completely unadorned, white-walled space into a black-box theater to bringing improv to audiences through weekly shows and being voted Best Comedy Theatre in the annual Best in Fremont Reader's Choice Awards, they are certainly on their way. "Going back to that childlike, playful state of being is what improv really encourages," says August. So if you really want to play and let loose, go see Made Up Theatre!

Made Up Theatre
Saturday performances at 8 p.m.
3392 Seldon Ct., Fremont
(510) 573-3633
Tickets: $10

San Francisco Improv Festival
August 18 to August 27
Made Up Theatre performance - Friday, August 19
9:30 p.m.
Eureka Theater
215 Jackson St., San Francisco
Tickets: $20 - $25

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