Dear People of the World

Dear People of the World,

I wanted to write a letter to you rather than a review tonight because I feel like it’s a smidgen more personal and I wanted to write to you about something that is very close to my heart. I feel like sometimes there is this divide in the theatre community, certainly not all the time, but enough that it’s something I tend to notice. Sometimes the musical theatre branch of the community doesn’t tread out to see straight plays. Sometimes the actors in “straight” theatres don’t attend Improv or Sketch comedy shows. Sometimes the Improvisers/ Comedians don’t go to musical theatre. Sometimes it is a matter of taste, and that is, of course, fair. Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day or days in the week. That is also fair. But a lot of the time, I think, we stay in our little niche community because it is safe there. It is warm, it is familiar and fuzzy and we know we like it and we know what to expect. I urge you to be brave. But, don’t worry; I’m here to lead you down a bright, friendly path.
I didn’t grow up in a city where Improv was something that one did outside of class. I fell into sketch comedy when some friends of mine formed their own troupe and took it to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. But at nineteen I never felt like I fully understood what my crazy friends were doing. I started to think that the Comedy World was something that I didn’t quite understand. It was a world where I didn’t belong. And I’m sure a lot of people feel this way about all the various theatre niches. Perhaps we would like to try something new, but we don’t know how to start or where to begin.
This is what appeals to me so much about the National Theatre of the World, who I am sure you’ve noticed, I tend to ramble about a lot on the blog. I do this because they play in a world where the comedy community and the theatre community collide. They prove that we’re not all that different, and we are so often after the same things. We’re all telling stories. We’re longing to express ourselves. We want to be moved to tears and to laugh with our hearts.
Impromptu Splendor is the National Theatre of the World’s show that presents live, improvised new plays every Thursday at 8:30pm (Mondays at 9:00pm beginning in May) at the Comedy Bar on Bloor Street. Here, Naomi Snieckus, Matt Baram and Ron Pederson play at the zenith of the collision between Improv and Theatre. The show is massively popular with members of the Improv and Comedy communities of Toronto because it is one perfect essence (of many possibilities) of what Improv can be. These artists are masters at their craft and their shows every week are fleeting works of profundity, precision, skill and modest touches of genius.
I want to reach out and to tell you (yes, you!) that you should make sure to catch Impromptu Splendor especially if you are a member of another niche of Toronto’s theatre community. It has changed the way I look at theatre. It has changed the way I look at playwriting. It has opened doors to the possibility in my own imagination that have led to the neatest places and most interesting ideas. This show has continued to awe and inspire me on a weekly basis and I never laugh with more joy or triumph than I do at Impromptu Splendor. Tonight, Fiona Reid was the special guest as part of the Late Night Series at Theatre Passe Muraille, and she blew my mind in a way that I don’t think is possible for a scripted show. Reid embodied Tennessee Williams so much she was almost channeling him. She worked with such ease and spoke with such remarkable verbosity that you couldn’t help but feel as though you were witnessing a marvel, a divine moment of time that will never be replicated. Impromptu Splendor always feels like a gift to me and it is one that I can’t quell the impulse to pass along.
I urge you to go see this show. It has brought such joy to the lives of everyone I know who has seen it.
You won’t be disappointed unless you miss it,
Amanda

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