Die-Nasty returns for its 25th annual weekend-long improv marathon
The concept of being stuck in a room with other people for 50 hours may be an abject hell for some, however, for the improv elite of the Edmonton theatre community, it’s a welcomed annual occurrence. The Die-Nasty improv troupe makes their triumphant return to improvised lunacy with their 25th annual Soap-A-Thon. The event’s purpose is to generate a consistent improvised soap opera. The catch is that it lasts an entire weekend and none of the performers can leave the premises.
For Wayne Jones, who has been working with the troupe for the last four years, it’s an event he has been looking forward to.
“We have all been waiting for this since the end of our regular season. It’s like bowling night for actors,” Jones says.
Since Die-Nasty started their run of improvised soap operas, they have put aside one weekend every year for this thespian endurance contest. All actors involved craft their characters and dedicate their sharp wits to making a fine-tuned and hilarious 50-hour-long narrative divided into two-hour “episodes.” The talent supplied matches the demands of this event as all actors involved are some of the best Edmonton has to offer.
“If you were to take Die-Nasty out of the equation, every person participating would still be working on other projects,” Jones says.
Each year the Soap-A-Thon operates on a specific theme. This way the binge has a bedrock for narrative structure. This year the theme in play is that of a post-apocalyptic nature, and in some grand twist of irony this year’s theme has lined up with recent global occurrences. This circumstance gives the cast quite the reservoir of inventive freedom to work with.
“Since we have no idea what a post-apocalyptic world would be like, it gives us this creative license to go anywhere and do anything,” Jones says.
One of the main reasons audiences look forward to the event is to see how the actors involved handle the gauntlet that they have to endure. The demands of the Soap-A-Thon require constant dedication on the casts’ behalf, as no one is allowed to stop the momentum of the marathon or leave. This has resulted in some hilarious occurrences in years past as well as certain precautions put in place for the sake of the sanity of the actors.
“There’s usually seven to eight of us doing the whole thing on no sleep, you really have to know what your body can handle. Somewhere between hours 30-35 you begin to see signs, some people get manic or tired but everybody finds a way through it,” says Jones.
Certain aspects of this year’s performance are getting some new additions, as this will be the first year where audiences get to interact with the cast outside of the confines of the stage. The marathon will incorporate several “twitter hours” where the audience can tweet at Die-Nasty and help drive the course of the narrative, something the troupe has yet to explore.
Die-Nasty’s Soap-A-Thon surely will be an event that will be hilarious and frantically unpredictable. The length of the event allows for ideas to be expanded on outside of the usual restrictions of short form improv and everyone involved is bringing their best to this year’s performance.
“Over the weekend you become more the character than yourself at times, it’s truly a beautiful disaster,” he says.