L.A. Noir on the Fly

Impro Theatre @ the Ford

By Brian Sonia-Wallace

"In an age of digital noise and distraction, improv is a growth industry," Impro Theatre's Producing Artistic Director Dan O'Connor says. "It's about teaching people how to really listen instead of just waiting to talk."

Impro Theatre sets itself apart from the plethora of improvisation troupes in LA by creating an evening-length work, intermission included, created in the style of a famous author or genre. It's a feat that requires extensive study and total immersion as the improvisers essentially write a play on the fly while performing it. The audience has a hand in the creation, too, providing suggestions at key moments that shape the plot.

"But we don't drag anyone onstage," Dan laughs, "so don't be scared!"

For the Ford, Impro Theatre is revisiting film noir -- the smoking gun, the femme fatale, the world-weary detective -- a genre Dan says the troupe hasn't done in a long time. "It seemed appropriate to do film noir in an LA landmark like the Ford," he says.

A four-piece jazz band will join the troupe on stage to punch up their lines musically. "In noir, the music plays such a big role in the suspense of the piece," Dan tells me. There's an amazing synergy created between jazz musicians riffing and actors improvising, as the artists come together across art forms through a shared understanding of what it means to really listen and connect.

Bringing L.A. Noir UnScripted to the Ford has deepened the company's understanding of this classic genre, evolving beyond the simple who-done-it to find themes of justice, revenge and redemption. "The Ford makes it epic, even operatic," Dan says. I can't wait to tune out the noise of everyday life and join Impro in this unbeatable moment, creating something never to be seen again.

L.A. Noir UnScripted performs under the stars at the Ford Theatres on Friday, October 14 at 8:30 p.m.