Thursday, April 18, 2024

ANARCHY: The Improvised Rock Opera - 10 year anniversary

I wanted more.

I was given the opportunity of a lifetime, a game changer in my life, to photograph improv. Music Improv to be specific. This started at Second City photographing "WhoProv", a music improv based off Doctor Who. Once that ran its course, a new opportunity for improvs was born as a platform to give those who needed a place to continue practice of their trade, called M.I.N.T., at Studio BE, later to be renamed MCL. This became another huge game changer in my life.

Ten years ago MCL was where I photographed the first public Anarchy music improv. It was very cool. Very distinctive. Over the years improvs have joined and left this troupe. For this evening, all of them who could attend did, and gave us a superb performance along with the band. A blast from the past, to the current, and I will say for the future.

What is cool about music improvs working as a troupe, is how they can interject to create a new or totally different direction to the story. Be it just a word, phrase, concept, song, all of the improvs will latch on and go with it. They will internally laugh like "oh my God" and a try to suppress the outward laugh/expression so as to not break character. Yet we see it, and it becomes hilarious. There is definitely some synergy, and anarchy to this process.

Now, can they all sing? Yes. They all have their niche in voice. The character is what you have to worry/laugh about. Sometimes to bring out a character they will change voice and it can become a challenge to keep it in song. They prevail, and we laugh even harder. Sometimes they throw at each other many different twists/directions, that an improv just becomes stunned/bewildered, like "where the hell do I take this now?", which makes it even funnier. More internal giggles suppressed that we still see, and the attempt to lay it out in song that can take the story anywhere they want. Which they do very well.

You see the experience, strengths, and even weaknesses in individuals. As you watch an improv perform, whether to individual song or along with the the troupe, you really don't give a shit about that because everyone makes it so hilarious. That is all that counts. That is why everyone enjoys watching a music improv.

My star of the evening was this young lady, Allie. She made the evening performance for me because I connected with her vulnerability and willingness to make her statement and sock-it-to-us. I am going to give her a nickname: Never-Yield

Cruise Ship

Lots of blue, a ship captain, another ship captain changed to an inside my head ship captain [and with an eye patch], party girls who have a sit down about each other and "me", some ballet to pitch a character, diamond thieves, water waves, sunken ship, sunken ship ghosts, ex-employed steam engine shoveling sunken ship ghosts, interviews, and a whole lot of shake (refreshment and body), and don't forget about the real and/or stick-on tattoos.

What was cool too was the history of Anarchy troupes. From the beginning of Anarchy until now, they took the stage and explained their era, selecting what they enjoyed to do improv wise, and implementing it by adding to the location Cruise Ship given by the audience. It was educational, delightful, heartwarming, seeing their evolution and adaption to the audience source of inspiration. 

I have followed some of these improvs since the opening of M.I.N.T. Three individuals from that era who are part of the Anarchy family are Alex, Heather, and Amber. Heather helps to keep Anarchy on the move. I enjoy all her work. I also remember Amber from the opening public show of Anarchy. She came out as a powerhouse and her performance convinced me that Anarchy was the sign from God this will become something, marking itself in improv history. Yes, I was that impressed with her. Everyone loves Alex, and for good reason. He is Alex. He makes a great closer with his introduction of character and prop. He makes a great person as well because he cares about what he does as a performer, with performers. Included too is Brad Kemp, their music director. He's a corner stone for a lot of music improvisations.

As always, I truly believe all of these performers are important to us and to their craft. The people I have named made their connection with my emotions, so strong that I cannot help but talk about them. That in no way detracts from all of the others. They are as important to me, to themselves, and to the industry they perform in. Thanks to all of you!!!

The Photos

I have a tendency to show too many photos in my blogs. I enjoy telling the story visually. It was hard for me to tell the story with just a few photographs. I have learned along the way how to improve on that through some critique. I hope I have just what is needed in this blog for those who attended to remember the story, and for those who did not make it (and why didn't you?) to see the story. Feel free to be honest and let me know your thoughts. That is the only way I can re-calibrate myself.

Current Cast

Molly Todd Madison

Mike Silver

Heather Scholl

Sydney Clinton

Jonathan Allsop

Paul Brandt

Ryan Cashman

Bri Fitzpatrick

Allie Gospel

Amber Linde

Josiah Robinson

Rainey Wright

ANARCHY: The Improvised Rock Opera

iO Theater
1501 N. Kingsbury St.
Chicago, IL 60642


You can see a categorized thumbnail of all Towle Theater related blogs by going to StreetPhoto.Me.

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