A Reason to Laugh in 2020: Improv Comedy Show comes to CPAC

COOKEVILLE – The Cookeville Improv Alliance (CIA) is excited to present “A Reason to Laugh in 2020: Improv Comedy Show”, a Storyteller Theatre Company production, on Nov. 19 and 20 at the Cookeville Performing Arts Center.

“After everything our community has been through this year, I am so ready to laugh,” said Prudence van Aalten, a member of the improv troupe and a theatre professor at Tennessee Tech. “It was such a bummer that we had to cancel our second sold out show. That’s why I know this upcoming show is just going to be electric. 

The CIA was able to perform one show in early 2020 before the pandemic halted theatrical productions throughout the country. After hours of virtual practices, the troupe is eager to perform live at the Cookeville Performing Arts Center, combining the safety of the performers and the audience with innovative improv strategies. 

Laura Holloway, the founding member and leader of the troupe, echoes the need for laughter after months of uncertainty. 

“It’s been a dark year for theatre, for performance artists of all kinds, and we are hoping to help people remember how important laughter is, how laughter truly is the best medicine,” said Holloway.

Holloway also serves as co-founder and president of the Storyteller Theatre Company, the nonprofit performing arts organization that brings its own flavor of theater and theater education to Cookeville, including the Cookeville Improv Alliance.

“I joined the group having not done improv for a while,” said Oliver Wade, a member of the troupe with previous improv experience. “Improv is fun because every show is different, and you never know what you are going to see.”

Which is true of every improv event, as actors enter the stage and gather content for the show live and respond candidly to scenarios provided by audience suggestions. Improv shows are generally comprised of games that the troupe members know they will be playing in advance, as well as who will be “playing” each game. This show, however, will be formatted a little differently.

Wade explained, “This show is going to be great as it’s a little different from a regular improv show with the introduction of recorded material and sketch elements.”

One troupe member, Trevor Dodson, won’t be able to be at the shows live, so he is worked into the show in other ways through film.

“I’m like a kid at Christmas for this show for many reasons,” said Dodson. “I have a wonderful team that made a way to keep me not just included but critically involved in the creative processes of this hybrid show.”

Holloway explains how measures have been taken to ensure the safety of the troupe members and the audience, including the creation of a hybrid show format featuring relevant issues such as navigating life during the pandemic, “This will be a comedy show unlike any you’ve seen before; it’s unlike anything our group has created before! One-part sketch comedy, two-parts improv – it’s been interesting to create a show from the ground up based on the idea of social distancing, both for our audience and for our performers. We want everyone to feel safe and relaxed–CPAC has been wonderful in creating that safe atmosphere for our audience.”

“Our first show at Red Silo was a blast,” van Aalten exclaimed. “The audience was so with us, and we, as a group, were so pumped to bring what we had been working on into the community. Our first rehearsal back was great, and I know this show is going to rock.”

The two nights of comedy on Nov. 19 and 20 will be structurally similar, but as a cornerstone of improv theatre, no two shows are ever the same. Fans are encouraged to get tickets to one or both nights of Cookeville Improv Alliance’s ”A Reason to Laugh in 2020: Improv Comedy Show”, presented by the Storyteller Theatre Company. The Cookeville Performing Arts Center has provided a space large enough to accommodate social distancing on stage, as well as in the audience, where seating will be arranged with space between groups in mind. Tickets sold in advance at CIAImprov.com are $10 and tickets sold at the door are $20. CPAC encourages guests to call ahead for further information or special seating arrangements. 

About Storyteller Theatre Company, Inc. Storyteller Theatre Company, Inc. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that aims to offer professional, memorable, relevant and equitable theatre, providing a positive and meaningful experience for both actors and audience and working alongside other local arts groups to expand and heighten our community’s cultural footprint. For more information, please visitstorytellertheatreco.org

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