Gorilla: (noun) the largest anthropoid ape, inhabiting the forests of central Western Africa. It is stocky and massive, with a short muzzle and coarse dark hair. Gorilla Theatre: (noun) a new improv show at SAK Comedy Lab where four directors compete for the coveted Gorilla Trophy.
Though their show on Nov. 12 was only one of many previews before it officially opens in January, all four directors were in top form. The four contestants were Greg Yates, Jenny McIntire, Rollins Improv Players Director Dr. David Charles (Dr. D), and Rollins alumna Ana Eligio ‘09.
Each director presented his or her mini-show’s central theme at the beginning of the evening—Yates chose the taboo; McIntire used colors; Charles dabbled in extremes; Eligio used the idea of the life yet to be lived.
Four audience members were then given stopwatches and timed the scenes, while each director used his or her time to set up a scene with the other three contestants as their actors. After the director said “cut,” it was up to the audience to decide if the scene adequately represented their theme. If it did, the audience yelled “banana” and the director received a banana as a point, but if the scene did not then the audience shouted “forfeit” and the director received no points.
Gorilla Theatre was created by Keith Johnstone, a father of modern improvisation. He began his work in improv in England, which was no easy feat. At the time, the Lord Chamberlain had to approve scripts, and obviously, there is no script to be approved of when it came to improv.
It has since thrived and been featured in several countries around the world. Charles, who has been performing at SAK since 2004, saw Gorilla Theatre for the first time on a trip home to New Zealand and pitched it to Artistic Director Dave Russell as soon as he returned to SAK.
Eligio, who had originally been hired as an assistant director, was extremely excited when she was asked to join the cast back in October. Due to her strong background as a Rollins Improv Player, returning to the stage as an improviser was like coming home for her. “RIP is definitely where I got bit by the improv bug,” she said after the show, still glowing from winning the Gorilla Trophy. In addition to performing in Gorilla Theatre and assistant directing, Eligio has also been invited to join Generation S, one of SAK’s many shows. When she is not working at SAK, she performs as an atmosphere actor at The Holy Land Experience in Orlando. Charles, who was Eligio’s mentor at Rollins, is thrilled to be working with her at SAK.
Charles said that Eligio has brought playfulness to the theater and that adding her as a cast member was a great decision. Charles proudly declared, “The cast is definitely made the stronger by her presence.”
Thanks to Eligio, Charles and all the other cast members, the show is bound to be a great success, with lots of laughs and bananas to go around. For more information regarding Gorilla Theatre previews and performances or to find out more about other shows performed at SAK Comedy Lab, visit their website at www.sak.com.