First there was comedy improv, now there's dramatic improv.
First introduced by L.A. Connection in an experimental production last year, dramatic improv will now be showcased on various Monday nights by LAC at 8 PM. The dates are Mar. 5 & 12, Apr. 9, July 16 and Oct. 15 & 29.
A second company, Actors Workout Studio, is following suit with Friday Night Fever, which will play every Friday night at 9 PM through April.
Both theatres base this new style of improv on audience suggestions. With LAC, audience members fill out cards with suggested dramatic situations. At the beginning of each of six separate scenes (averaging about eight minutes each), an actor either draws a card or asks for something else: a noun, an object or a pervading smell.
"They then take the suggestion and expand upon it, to wherever it may lead -- more accurately, where their own unique repertoire of characters may lead them," said director Julienne Dallara. "Comedy there may be, but not necessarily. It could result in serious drama. Perhaps a murder mystery. Perchance a romantic adventure. No one really knows until it's over." For the past five months the following LAC members have worked to hone this new theatrical art form: Riley Bowman, Jo DiNove-Daly, Aimee Hughes, Stephanie Lesh, Steve Pinto, Russell Richardson, Kevin Sifuentes, Brian Starcher and Russell Towne.
The L.A. Connection Comedy Theatre is located at 13442 Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks. Tickets are $10. Call (818) 784-1868 for information.
The Actors Workout Studio technique is to accept real-life suggestions and scenarios from the audience. The actors then prepare in front of the audience (separately) while the audience asks questions and observes the preparation process. Then the actors perform the scene. It's not uncommon to see an audience member recruited to become one of the players.
The Actors Workout Studio is at 4735 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hollywqood. Call (818) 506- 3903 for information.
-- By Willard Manus
Southern California Correspondent