TST entertains alumni at improv show

(Sherry Han/The AQ)
Robbie Lynn plays a Confederate soldier asking his general, Alexander Rioux, what the strategy is. (Sherry Han/The AQ)

Apparently the biggest difference between ordering your coffee in Toronto and ordering it in New Brunswick is that in New Brunswick it’s like, “Take a seat, relax. Nora will get you your Tim Hortons once she figures out if you and she are related,” according to Marcel St. Pierre.

St. Thomas University alum and Toronto-based improvisational actor St. Pierre returned to STU for a second performance of the Alumni Weekend improv show, Whose STU Is It Anyway?

St. Pierre performed with six Theatre St. Thomas students: Telina Debly, Robbie Lynn, Brennan Garrett, Miguel Roy, Amelia Hay and Alexander Rioux.

The show was set up as a competition, with two teams playing various improv games contending for audience laughter and votes via applause.

Some of the games played were ABC Challenge, where actors in the scene begin their sentence with the letter of the alphabet that comes after the first letter of the line the person before them spoke, and Should’ve Said, where the audience shouts out “should’ve said” throughout the scene, forcing the actor speaking to change the line they just said.

The six students took on a variety of characters, from an expert in geese flossing, Shakespearian siblings, Tim Horton’s workers, Civil War Confederate soldiers and a husband, a wife with really bad breath and her lover.

The actors’ antics got some good laughs from the audience of alumni and St. Thomas students, but didn’t produce the same pithy one-liners that the show did last year.

St. Pierre also pitched his new book, Vengeful Hank & Other Shortweird Stories, a compilation of short stories he wrote in 2013 during a daily improvisational writing experiment.

St. Pierre read three excerpts from his book to kick off the show. The first was about a man named Carl getting ready for work after being sent home early the previous day for perpetuating Yodel or Yogurt Day at the office. Carl is optimistic though, and is convinced Necktie on your Penis Day will be received much more enthusiastically.

St. Pierre said when he began the experiment on Jan. 1 of 2013, he decided each story would be written with the number of words in the day of the year. His first entry was one word long, and his last was 365 words.

“It was super easy to get going, so I wouldn’t get overwhelmed by the deadlines and the amount of words,” he said.
The stories were “purely fictional, I mean, some of it ended up being sort of beat poetry like ‘these are the things that are bothering me today, what’s with radishes?’” St. Pierre said.

He said he was excited to get the chance to work with TST students again.

“That’s the great thing about meeting other improvisers when you’re travelling, they are always teaching you something new,” he said.

Alexander Rioux, participant and president of Theatre St. Thomas, said his previous improv experience is from working with local troupe Hot Garbage Players, who do long-form improvised scenes.

Working with St. Pierre was different, he said, since “it’s a much different style of improv that I’m used to but that also fuels my excitement.”

Whose STU Is It Anyway? was the first show of this year’s Theatre St. Thomas season. Coming next is The Trickster of Seville and His Stone Guest, the original Don Juan story, which will be put on in the middle of November. No White Picket Fence, an original verbatim play by TST artistic producer Robin Whittaker and STU professor Sue McKenzie-Mohr.


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