The Institution Theater's It Came From Your Brain

This improvised retro sci-fi monster movie may pique your curiosity enough that you’ll want to visit the “drive-in” more than once

Left to right: Marcone Cangussu, Jennifer Dorsey, David Lampe, Samantha Vine, Alicia Earls, and Ethan Stites (Photo courtesy of Steve Rogers Photography)

In the Institution Theater's It Came From Your Brain, a brave group of actors attempt a lofty feat. At the suggestion of one lucky audience member, Marcone Cangussu, Jennifer Dorsey, Alicia Earls, Ben Howell, David Lampe, Heidi Penix, Ethan Stites, Heidi Lorenz, and Samantha Vine endeavor to improvise a full-length, Fifties-style, sci-fi thriller flick from beginning to end.

Here are the only four things I can 100% guarantee about the evening: One, the price of admission includes free popcorn, and a buck more gets you a mystery goodie sack that also doubles as a vomit bag. Two, your hostess will be Quajira, a late-night vamped-out vixen with eyes the size of flying saucers. Three, a monster from the deepest recesses of the human mind will be born. Four, at intermission, the audience chooses someone in the show to die. Everything else will be created on the spot.

The concept is original and exciting, and the show I witnessed (Creepy Crawly Things From Sector 9) was mostly well-executed and a lot of fun. However, my experience that Saturday night was a one–of-a-kind happening that may not contain much specific relevance for future audiences.

Nevertheless, based on my particular experience, I have concocted a few clever hypotheses as to what may happen in future installments of It Came From Your Brain. There may or may not be a screaming contest. It is possible that you will see a lot of your favorite Fifties sci-fi character tropes and plot lines. Perhaps an epic battle will ensue. It is conceivable that you will laugh very hard. The U.S. military could become involved. There is potential for a 3-D extravaganza. The possibility that someone is taken by a monster is strong. Some people might get slapped in the face repeatedly. Cows could turn up mutilated. A polyamorous doctor may toy with the basic building blocks of nature. The material might have a heavy feminist slant. The improvised play will most likely be accompanied by well-timed sound, light, and music cues.

Due to the completely made-up nature of the evening, every once in a while it is feasible that a joke may not land or that an actor will upstage him or herself, but overall it is highly probable that you will be impressed by how well this group of performers (directed by Kenny Madison and Nicholaus Weindel) works as a team. There is a good chance that they will successfully generate a long-form improvised retro drive-in movie. It may pique your curiosity just enough to want to visit this off-the-cuff sci-fi monster mash-up more than once.

But this is all speculative. Who can say what thrills and chills await the night you attend It Came From Your Brain? The show doesn't exist yet, and the monster you'll meet is currently lurking in an unsuspecting future audience member's head, perhaps even yours. – T. Lynn Mikeska

It Came From Your Brain

The Institution Theater, 3708 Woodbury
Through Oct. 29
Running time: 1 hr., 30 min.

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Institution Theater, Austin improv, Kenny Madison, Nicholaus Weindel, Marcone Cangussu, Jennifer Dorsey, Alicia Earls, Ben Howell, David Lampe, Heidi Penix, Ethan Stites, Heidi Lorenz, Samantha Vine

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