Creatures of Impulse have become creatures of terror as the teen improv troupe performs its sixth season at the Firehouse Arts Center with "Nightmare: A live improvised horror show" tonight and tomorrow.
Each season, the teens rehearse storytelling techniques and how to create characters that the audience can identify with and hopefully care about. Before the show starts, audience members will be asked for suggestions to help inspire the creation of the characters and storylines. From those, the cast will develop a fully improvised "play" each night.
"One year, two audience members had to leave the theater because they said, 'It got too intense,'" recalled Mark Duncanson, the group's founder and director. "They eventually went back in, but I consider that a huge compliment for improvised horror -- mission accomplished."
Long narrative performances such as "Nightmare" don't use props, sets, costumes or makeup, Duncanson explained. Just the imagination.
"We hope to give audiences another perspective on improv with our long-form narrative performances like 'Nightmare,'" Duncanson said. "Improv isn't just one-liners designed to go for laughs."
"We hope to create compelling stories and characters with audience suggestions, and then take them along for the journey," he added. "I love when the performers in Creatures of Impulse can make an audience wince and cover their eyes."
This year, Clay Robeson from the Un-Scripted Theater Company, a professional San Francisco troupe, was brought in to teach advanced improvised horror techniques. He has long been an enthusiastic supporter of Creatures of Impulse.
The Tri-Valley troupe has 28 members this season, ages 14-18, with students from Amador Valley, Foothill, Livermore, Valley Christian and Cal High. The troupe is sponsored by Pleasanton Parks and Recreation Department.
Today, Halloween, there will be two performances, at 2 p.m. and at 9 p.m., and costumes are encouraged. The Halloween evening performance is recommended for ages 14 and up.
Tickets are $5 students, $10 adults. For more info, visit www.firehousearts.org.