Tickling the funnybone of the 'burbs!
Mike has enjoyed improv for a few years. His mom inspired him to give improv a try by saying late in her life "if I had to do it all again, then I think I would be a circus clown." Mike decided to not wait for "later in life", but rather to scare himself by daring himself to try. After all, "Life is a daring adventure or nothing at all." - Helen Keller. • Mike hopes to make you laugh, but mostly aspires to keep you engaged, entertained, and moved.
Mike created our Suburban Thunder Improv Company logo and performs with ST!C when he needs a dose of laughter!
Michael recently had the great opportunity to move on to a new chapter in his story. We congratulate him, and his wife, on their wonderful new adventure. And look forward to seeing him with whatever new improv group he takes over! • The dram-rom version of Michael's bio: Michael's long, clandestine career in the KGB led him to improvisational comedy. Deep cover in the capitals of Europe and a decade in the Siberian wasteland positioned him very well for a 'yes, and' world. Intrigue? Always. Loneliness? Sometimes. Torture? Seldom. Take care as you observe his catlike movements and Gollum-esque obsession with love, art, human pain and joy. Little will you know of him midst the shadows and silences of the stage, but perhaps his cold warrior mentality will make you long for the pre-Gorbachev days of wine, roses, and smoking guns. • And now the more serious: Michael got started with improv in misty 1980s Berkeley. He loved the art form so much that he didn't do it again until 2010 in San Ramon. Clearly an homage to the notion of original sin. Now, between cups of Peet's coffee, sunny days on the golf course, or hanging out at the Oakland Coliseum lamenting his poor A's, you can find Michael mining the deeper recesses of his mind on stage at Dougherty Center.
Brodie is a high school student.
Carolee works at a tech company.
David is a high school student.
While Diana is a native suburbanite, she has travelled extensively and lived in an actual city a few times. In her life before kids, Diana was a competitive figure skater, dancer, and speech communication major who toiled away in a Silicon Valley cubicle. She is overjoyed to have found the gang at Suburban Thunder!
Go to www.SanRamonPerformingArts.com and look for "tickets" in the menu. Then pull down "buy tickets". You'll see our shows in the scrolling list there. You can also call the box office (925) 973-3343. If you suddenly feel like having a laugh, just drop by the box office right before the show. Tickets are always $10! Best value for your buck!
We perform at The Front Row Theater, at Dougherty Station Community Center. 17011 Bollinger Canyon Road, San Ramon
We sure do! Call the box office for group sales of 10 or more. (925) 973-3343
Absolutely! We can tailor a session just for your team. We'll help you to better work together, really listen to each other, and trust your instincts. Let us build a class with your specific needs. Email us for more details. SuburbanThunderImprov@gmail.com
improvisation [im-prov-uh-zey-shuh n, im-pruh-vuh-]
noun: the art or act of improvising, or of composing, uttering, executing, or arranging anything without previous preparation:
noun; informal: improvisation, especially as a theatrical technique.
Improvisational theatre is as old as time. It pre-dates the invention of writing, since long before we started writing scripts we were telling stories by acting them out. It has its basis in commedia dell'arte, an Italian Renaissance form of theater in which a traveling comedy troupe would perform farces without a written script. Though the basic scenario was agreed upon, the dialogue and the pacing of the story often depended on audience reactions.
After the Commedia died off, improv theatre faded into obscurity until it was separately and spontaneously re-invented by two people who have shaped the craft as it exists today -- Keith Johnstone and Viola Spolin.
Keith Johnstone and Theatresports
Keith Johnstone started formulating his theories about creativity and spontaneity while growing up in England, and later brought them into his teaching at the University of Calgary. He felt that theatre had become pretentious, which is why the average man in the street didn't even consider attending it. Johnstone wanted to bring theatre to the people who went to sporting and boxing matches, the same audience that Shakespeare had written for in his day.
Johnstone decided that one approach would be to combine elements of both theatre and sports, to form a hybrid called Theatresports. The trappings of team sports were adapted to the improvisational theatre context; teams would compete for points awarded by judges, and audiences would be encouraged to cheer for good scenes and jeer the judges ("kill the umpire!").
Through Theatresports, Johnstone's ideas have gone on to influence (directly or indirectly) almost every major improv group.
Viola Spolin and Theatre Games
Back in the 1920's and 1930's, a woman named Viola Spolin began to develop a new approach to the teaching of acting. It was based on the simple and powerful idea that children would enjoy learning the craft of acting if it were presented as a series of games.
Spolin's son, Paul Sills, built on his mother's work and was one of the driving forces of improvisational theatre centered around the University of Chicago in the mid-1950's. Along with people like Del Close and David Shepherd, Sills created an ensemble of actors who developed a kind of "modern Commedia" which would appeal to the average man in the street. As with Theatresports and the original Commedia, the goal was to create theatre that was accessible to everyone.
The group that sprang from the work of Sills, Shepherd and Close, called The Compass, was extremely successful. It brought people to the theatre who in many cases had never gone before, and eventually led to the development of a company called Second City.
Through The Compass and Second City, Spolin's Theatre Games have gone on to influence an entire generation of improvisational performers.