Have you seen [it]?
The name of the improv arm of the Savannah Stage Company is [it], which stands for "improv troupe." Members are excited to be adding a new venue for their comedy shows.
"We founding members all came from the Barter Theatre up in Virginia," director Bryan Pridgen says. "They had an improv class they'd do every week, and in the summer, they'd do a big performance.
"When we came here, we thought improv would be helpful to develop actors who hadn't been on stage a lot," he says. "Improv provides a good chance for them to jump in.
"We see improv as jumping into the unknown," Pridgen says. "It forces them to be brave and make strong choices, which is important to all actors."
[it] already has one steady gig.
"We've started being the opening act at Taco Abajo's comedy night," Pridgen says.
"We have a troupe of about eight to 15 people who do our shows," he says. "We're starting to host our own, and improv is probably one of our more consistent things we do."
The group works hard at its craft.
"We've been rehearsing every week," Pridgen says. "We play games and have started to practice long-form improv."
Although rehearsal isn't necessary for improv, Pridgen says a lot of knowledge can be gained from rehearsing.
"We think it's important to hone those skills," he says.
"It's one of the areas where growth has been really important," Pridgen says. "How do we grow as actors, how do we grow as artists?"
[it] is going to add the new gallery Sicky Nar Nar to its list of venues, beginning July 18. Improv won't be the only highlight of the evening.
"We'll also have some refreshments and beer," Pridgen says. "It's more of a fun, adult time where we can share some laughs together.
"It will last an hour and a half. The first act will have games and some more familiar improv. After the intermission, we'll do more long-form, which is very exciting.
"We're taking the shorter games and extending them into their own little plays, often with ideas the audience gives us," he says. "It's very participatory, with the audience giving us suggestions."
Audiences will enjoy the evening, Pridgen says.
"It will be a really fun time," he says. "Everyone who has seen us on comedy night at Taco Abajo has been having a blast. Sicky Nar Nar is a beautiful venue."
The Savannah Stage Company celebrated its first birthday July 1. Its mission is to make theater accessible to more people, and members have presented performances for young audiences, at retirement centers and in city programs.
Since the beginning of the year, Jayme Tinti, outreach and association artistic director for the company, has been using improv to train actors.
"[it] has served as a great outreach tool between professional theatre and the community," she says.
"We are able to bring this art to nontraditional places and use nontraditional theater performers," Tinti says. "We've just added two local standup comedians, Chris Davison and Peter Vanpelt, to our troupe. All of these Savannah artists are getting paid to learn and experiment and perform."
Why improv in Savannah?
"A core value to this company is to be accessible to the community," Tinti says.
"One of the biggest ways to do that is to take theater out of the theater - bring our art to people that wouldn't necessarily come see a play," she says. "This city is full of opportunity for performance - open mics, stand-up comedy nights, and so on.
"A local comic said to me the other night that he's always felt that improv was standup comedy's neighbor," Tinti says. "That scene in this town is growing, and it's been a great venue for us to connect with our neighbors."
[it] presents honest improv, Tinti says.
"We believe that improv doesn't have to be funny - that honestly living in a heightened moment and building from there will result in success," she says.
"We are really inspired by the work of the Upright Citizens Brigade," Tinti says. "They have a trust that is so strong and successful. We rehearse weekly, so we are constantly experimenting with new games and developing our long-form improv."
The result is theater that is attractive to all audiences.
"Because we tour, we can absorb into wherever we are," Tinti says. "We've been playing Taco Abajo at 10 p.m. on their standup comedy night - that audience is built-in. We could walk into an afterschool program at 4 p.m. and do our art."
Improv has grown in popularity and continues to grow.
"Improv is risky, and that's attractive," Tinti says.
"The audience is such a huge component. They can participate and contribute," she says. "They are a part of the show. People want to use their imagination."
Trust is the most important aspect of improv, Tinti says.
"Trusting not only your partners but yourself, your imagination," she says.
"Just like in our acting, I think that success comes from imagination and the bravery to use it," Tinti says.
"It's no different than watching a play - the perimeters and specifics are a little different, but the audience wants to see honest moments.
"We believe an ensemble is needed so trust can be built and that everyone is playing the same," she says. "We rehearse weekly. That is so important. It gives us an opportunity to have an open dialogue about our work and grow from every moment we spend doing this."
Despite its format, improv can be rehearsed, and members of [it] rehearse often.
"We develop a language in rehearsal and experiment," Tinti says.
"We try new things, we talk about what worked and what didn't and we mine the gold from everything we do," she says. "[it] is pursuit of 'it.' We know that we never arrive at anything, that we are constantly learning and growing."
IF YOU GO
What: Improv by [it] of the Savannah Stage Company
When: 8 p.m. July 18 and Aug. 15
Where: Sicky Nar Nar, 125 W. Duffy St.
What else: [it] also will perform at 9 p.m. the first Tuesday of every month at Taco Abajo, 217 1/2 W. Broughton St.