The Hideout Improv Marathon
If it's 4am, this must be Maestro
If ever you questioned the degree to which Austin improvisers love to make shit up, swing by the Hideout Theatre this weekend. Eight committed players will be improvising right from happy hour Friday to the breakfast bell Sunday. That's 40 hours straight: no naps, no dinner breaks, no sitting out a spell – just solid improv for one and two-thirds days, with a different format every hour (Improvised Shakespeare! Soap Opera! After School Improv! Start Trekkin'!) and an assortment of guests (McNichol and May! ColdTowne! ComedySportz! Midnight Society!) dropping by to share in the madness undertaken by Parallelogramo-phonograph's Kareem Badr and Kaci Beeler, Junk's Andy Crouch and Troy Miller, Available Cupholders' Jeremy Lamb, Improvised Shakespeare's Curtis Luciani, Improv for Evil's Matt Pollock, and Topanga's Caitlin Sweet.
And why would these people put themselves through the improv equivalent of a run from Riverside Drive to Round Rock? Well, essentially to save their home. Several improvisers recently acquired the venue's lease (see "The Hideout," May 22) to keep it as active a center for improv as it has been for the past decade. Funds raised from the marathon will go toward keeping the Hideout solvent, though 10% of the proceeds will also go to the Austin Improv Collective and 10% to the educational program Theatre Action Project. Audiences are asked to pony up a mere fin for each hour of the marathon, with various upgrades available (best seat in the house, pancake breakfast) plus some traditional philanthropic opportunities (a raffle, a giving tree). The full schedule at www.hideouttheatre.com got us wondering what these improvisers expected their marathon to be like. So we asked Andy Crouch for his thoughts.
Austin Chronicle: What's the longest period you've ever stayed awake?
Andy Crouch: I imagine around 36 hours. Which was probably in college to write some crazy paper.
AC: So you're looking at a personal best here?
Crouch: I think I might be about to break a record. And the record might break me.
AC: Now, it's one thing stay up that long to write a college paper. But you're talking about creating instant theatre for 40 hours straight. How do you prepare for that?
Crouch: Well, I think we're prepared for the theatre. It's staying up the 40 hours that's the "X" factor. Improv is the ideal thing to do if you're going to stay up for 40 hours, because it's such a fully engaged process. [And this] is going to be full-on. There will be 10 minutes of down time between shows, then you're back on for 50 minutes doing Improvised Shakespeare or Play by Play With the Cubs Game or any number of ridiculous formats that we have planned.
AC: Are you expecting that by the end you may be improvising with people who aren't really there?
Crouch: Yeah, I think shit's gonna get crazy. I think altered states are going to be entered into at points during this marathon. Especially after the 30-hour mark.
AC: So people should book those last five hours first?
Crouch: That's the prime time. I'm really hoping that we will have gigantic numbers of people just coming in to see what the eight core improvisers look like after that many hours of doing improv. It's going to be beyond the pale.
AC: What's the most exciting thing about this project for you personally?
Crouch: I want to see what I'm like when I don't have the energy to keep up the defenses and the facade and all the things that people have in their lives and when they're doing art. As an improviser, you have to be vulnerable to do good work, and we train constantly to do that, but there are levels and levels of things we care about, like not looking foolish and making strong choices, and that left brain is going to slowly slip away, and you'll be left with a lot of unguarded people onstage. And I think that could be some amazing improv.
AC: And potentially amazing therapy as well. And the scariest thing about this project?
Crouch: My right knee's not so good. I really don't know what its endurance level is for standing and improvising for 40 hours.
AC: So for those people planning to come those last five hours, be prepared: Andy Crouch may be in a supine position.
The Hideout's inaugural 40-Hour Improv Marathon and fundraiser will be held Friday, June 26, 5pm, to Sunday, June 28, 9am, at the Hideout Theatre, 617 Congress. For more information, call 443-3688 or visit www.hideouttheatre.com.