By Lydia Baxter
No one adapts like an improviser.
From being able to turn on a dime in response to an audience suggestion to re-working an entire scene after a teammate throws in an unexpected plot twist, improvisers are the kings and queens of thinking on their feet.
So, it is no surprise that when a worldwide pandemic makes performing for live audiences impossible, improvisers – the ever-nimble people that they are – continue to come up with new ways to perform.
FST’s Director of Improvisation, Will Luera, is no exception. He has spearheaded three new weekly programs that are all: Free, Online, and Accessible Wherever You Are.
- FST Improv: Radio Call-In LIVE
One of Sarasota audiences’ favorite short-form improv games, Radio Call-In, is FST Improv’s comedic take on radio talk shows.
“One improviser pretends to be an opinionated talk-show host, ranting on the air,” explained Luera. “Instead of taking on a controversial topic, the show focuses on everyday subjects like swimming pools, birthday cakes, or playgrounds.”
After the cocky host shares their opinion, listeners – played by other FST Improv members or people tuning in to watch the show – join them on the air. Sylvia Day, an actor, improviser, and sketch writer living in Sarasota, often calls into the show as a quirky character with a strong point of view. She’s shared her thoughts as Queen Elizabeth, The Virgin Mary, and a nacho cheese-flavored Dorito.
“The show is done in a way that allows anyone to play, which is the best part about it!” said Luera. “We’ve been joined by students taking improv classes at FST as well as performers from outside Sarasota.”
How to Watch: Members of FST Improv perform LIVE through FST Improv’s Instagram feed (@FSTImprov) every Saturday at 7PM.
2. FST Improv Interviews with Will Luera
With 20 years of experience under his belt, Will Luera has forged connections with countless members of the international improv community. Now, every Friday, he sits down with one of the leaders of the improv world, discussing everything from their artistic philosophy to their favorite films.
In Luera’s interview with Ken Hall, one half of Canada’s critically-acclaimed improv duo, 2-MAN NO-SHOW, Ken talked about what he loves most about live improv performance.
“I think audiences are smart – they want to be in on the fun,” shared Hall. “Where we, as performers, can fall into a bit of a trap is that we think improv is simply verbal – being quick and making references – but for me there’s so much pleasure and joy with just playing with physicality and building a connection with the audience.”
“These interviews are a great complement to our improv classes,” shared Luera. “I am benefitting from them myself. I still consider myself to be a student of the craft, and these interviews are a way for me to continue to evolve as an actor, director, and teacher.”
How to Watch: Will Luera interviews improv gurus from around the world on FST Improv’s Facebook page (@FSTImprov) every Friday at 7PM.
Think improv is only funny in English? Well, think again! Luera has teamed up with FST Improv member Elise Rodriguez to present a virtual improv show every Thursday night completely en Español.
The idea for the show was planted last August, when Luera and Rodriguez traveled to Colombia to participate in a Spanish-speaking improv festival. Groups from all over Latin America performed.
“The experience was so memorable that we’ve made friendships with the artists we met there and we communicate with them regularly,” said Luera.
As COVID-19 continued to spread, groups from all over the world started performing together over Zoom.
“Suddenly being separated geographically was no longer an issue,” said Luera. “That inspired us to reconnect with the performers from the festival and try to play together. So far, we’ve had so much fun with it that we’re inviting even more Spanish-speaking improvisers to participate.”
How to Watch: Visit FST Improv’s Facebook page (@FSTImprov) on Thursday nights at 9:15PM.