by Borderstan.com April 7, 2011 at 10:00 am 1,879 3 Comments

Borderstan, 14th Street, Improv, Source Theater, Topher Bellavia

The Washington Improv Theater is a resident at the Source Theater. At top left is Topher Bellavia, managing director of WIT; at center left is Justus Hammond; and at bottom center is Maggie Dempsey. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Keri Douglas. She is a writer, photographer and communications consultant who lives in Logan Circle.

Improv is an original act of art created in an instant and then gone forever.

Topher Bellavia, managing director of the Washington Improv Theater (WIT) explains, “It is completely ephemeral, in the moment.” With no art form as free as improv, it ignites passions, dreams, fantasies and ultimately truth in human nature, which therein lies the comedy.

Catch the last two weekends of the Fighting Improv Smackdown Tournament (FIST) of the Washington Improv Theater going on at the Source Theater until April 16.  Tickets are $10. Or, see improv groups for Harold’s Night every Tuesday night at 9 p.m. at The Saloon, 1207 U Street, NW.

With the suggestion of one word, five to six actors spontaneously and skillfully craft the next 25 minutes with dialogue, movements, jazz scat like syllables and even silence. The key is listening for the cue for the next twist in the act. This evolving give-and-take creates a sense of lightness, the unknown and absolute trust. Ultimately, improv actors build a strong connection with one another and the audience.

“Anyone can do improv.” Bellavia says.  He says that all an actor needs is a “basic sense of empathy” and an understanding of “why people do the things they do. The only rule is that actors cannot deny someone else’s idea.”

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