Thursday, February 12, 2009

Songs and Operas from Theatresports Lightning Doubles

Back when I was new to improvised theatre, I was lucky enough to be around for the formation of Theatresports Lightning Doubles. The show was quite successful, running every Wednesday night, week-in week-out for several years. It was short-form with three teams of two players; the lowest-scoring team was eliminated at the half to create two teams of three. It's a format we still use at Impro Gladiators.

That whole time was pretty exciting for me - after years of following as an audience member, sitting in awe watching these brilliant people performing, I suddenly found myself working with them and being valued as a member of the group. Nothing better than that.

I carted along my little 4-track recorder to several Lightning Doubles shows, and we captured some songs and operas for posterity. Where's the 4-track now? And the tapes? Not sure. Back in the day, though, a fellow Brisbane improviser (now a Senior Staff Research Scientist at Google) Steve Lawrence had converted those recordings to the cutting edge mp2 format, and posted them to his website. Several improv websites still link to Steve's old site... but of course, that website is long gone.

On the internet, though, nothing ever dies. The Wayback Machine archives web pages for posterity, and that includes pictures and files, including those mp2s. Voila, archives of those recordings. (Not all of them survived the archiving. Generally the really bad ones didn't make it - the Wayback Machine has surprisingly discerning taste.)

So, over the next few weeks, I'll present some of these recordings (lovingly converted to mp3s) along with some discussion about why I like them, and concepts or techniques that they illustrate. Some of the performances are excellent. Some are a bit cringeworthy. All of them evoked a massive response from the audience... even if it was sympathetic embarrassment...

These recordings are pretty special to me, for several reasons. For one, it's a little glimpse in to how I played back when I was just getting started. Sometimes I'll hear music of mine that makes me wince, but other times I marvel that 1992-Kris had worked that stuff out already and was able to do a good job. It's also wonderful to hear folks like David Napier, Doug Bayne, Buck Buckingham, Rebecca Riggs... there are some excellent improvisers that I worked with for many years that no longer perform, and its great to go back and listen to them in full flight.

Update: Steve has happily come through with the rest of the recordings, the ones the Wayback Machine didn't manage to keep. Why didn't I just ask him in the first place? Perhaps I thought he might not be able to locate them on his computer. Oh, yeah, that's right, Steve is the creator of Google Desktop Search. Good call, Kris.

1 comment:

Steve said...

Hey Kris,

Great memories, thanks for posting!

When I was a kid, we only had mp-2 files!

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