Stanley Braxton Improv is hosting #NewYearNewMe, an improv show with a twist at the LSPU Hall on Saturday, January 20th. As soon as the lights go up, the performers will start drinking and they’ll be knocking ‘em back for the duration of the New Year’s Eve themed program.
The show will begin with a series of short, Whose Line Is It Anyways? style improv games. Once the performers get a glow on, they’ll move on to a one-act play set at a New Year’s Eve party. The play will be completely improvised and shaped by audience suggestions.
“This is like NASCAR; people are coming for the crashes,” said Artistic Director Mike Hammond. “People aren’t coming to see a Robert Chafe play, they’re not coming to see Shakespeare, they’re coming to see how far we can throw the Frisbee and then run and catch up with it.”
This isn’t the first time the Stanley Braxton crew have gotten sauced on stage. Two years ago they put off “24 Hour Drunk Play.” For that show, the troupe had a few drinks and wrote a play, then performed it while drinking in front of a full house at the LSPU Hall.
The performers brought their scripts on stage with them, but ended up improvising most of the show. This year they’re upping the ante by foregoing the scripts all together and leaving the direction of the play in the audience’s hands.
“This is one of the only shows I’ve been nervous about because we’ve put ourselves outside of our comfort zone,” said Hammond. “The last time we did it we had a script to fall back on, but this time we’re really putting ourselves in handcuffs and trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube blindfolded.”
When Stanley Braxton formed in 2011, there were no professional improv troupes working in St. John’s. Stanley Braxton filled the void and then some; over the past six years they’ve been putting off regular gigs, filling venues like the LSPU Hall and Majestic Theatre, and even launching the hugely successful Braxton Comedy Festival. So Hammond is nervous, but he’s also excited about taking on a new challenge.
“We’re seeing what kind of scenario we can put ourselves in to make doing a one-act play harder. We’re creating a play, but we’re giving ourselves one hell of a restriction, which is our sobriety,” Hammond said
Hammond says the audience are more than welcome to join the performers in enjoying a few drinks during the show, but it’s important to the troupe that people drink responsibly. He hopes people will lean toward getting tipsy as opposed to inebriated if they do decide to drink.
“Like all of our shows, the atmosphere is going to be very welcoming, people are going to be having a few drinks and having a few laughs … this is just a silly idea we had, and we want people to come out and get silly with us,” Hammond said.