Ohio University’s Tantrum Theater is collaborating with The Nest Theatre and Passion Works Studio to conduct a virtual five-week applied improv workshop for School of Theater students and Passion Works artists. The class will conclude with a free performance on Facebook Live on Wednesday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m.
The project is funded in part by a grant from the Ohio Arts Council and support from Ohio University’s College of Fine Arts. The class brings together professional artists, the arts community, and OHIO students by allowing them to create and engage in the arts with each other safely during this time of virtual connection.
“Chances to make art with others are very rare at this moment, with both The Nest and Passion Works’ models based upon in-person connections and creation,” Joshua Coy, interim producing director of Tantrum Theater, said. “We wanted to help keep those doors open, even in the face of technical and communicative challenges, so that when we do return to normal, we have built relationships that can immediately hit the ground running and foster new ideas in the future.”
The Nest Theatre(opens in a new window) is based in Columbus, Ohio, and was created in 2016 by co-founders Rance Rizzuto and alumna Tara DeFrancisco, BSC, CERT ’98. The Nest was the first theater company to hold all forms of comedy under one roof, said DeFrancisco, from improv, sketch, musical, genre, shortform, longform, and podcasts to experimental theater.
DeFrancisco and Rizzuto are leading the class to teach basic application and collaborative work in improv.
“We are all feeling the lack of connection in the world this year – and strangely, even virtually, we have been able to regain a lot of the joy through interaction and play theory,” DeFrancisco said about the importance of the class amid the pandemic. “Play stimulates creativity and allows your ‘inner critic’ to relax; simply said, when we are at play, we are our most confident and most free. We all need a sense of that right now – a reminder that community and connection are what we are all fighting to get back.”
Passion Works Studio(opens in a new window) is a collaborative community arts center located in Athens. Nancy Epling, artist in residence at Passion Works Studio, said that the artists were more than happy to partake in the class and look forward to it each week.
“The class is geared towards the beginner level for the artists and OHIO theater students have been invited to partake in the class as well. [OHIO theater students] are collaborating alongside people with different abilities with whom they may not get the chance to collaborate within academia or in their own bubble,” Epling said. “They are learning new ways of communication all around.”
The collaboration between OHIO’s Tantrum Theater, School of Theater students, Passion Works Studio and The Nest Theatre is one that aligns with each group’s mission, Coy said.
“The Nest and Passion Works both embody a spirit of tenacious creativity, and bringing organizations like these together to see what might spark as a result of spending time together is a role that Tantrum Theater would like to continue to cultivate here in Athens as this community’s professional theater company,” Coy said.
Tantrum Theater welcomes all of the OHIO community to tune into class’s performance hosted by The Nest on Facebook Live on Passion Works Studio’s Facebook page(opens in a new window) at 7 p.m. Oct. 21.
Coy, Epling, DeFrancisco and Rizzuto also unpacked the origins of this project along with the nature of improv, what it teaches people about themselves and others, and about trust in this episode of Talking Studio(opens in a new window), the podcast for OHIO’s College of Fine Arts.
For more information about The Nest Theatre, visit nesttheatre.com(opens in a new window). To learn more about Passion Works Studio, visit passion-works-studio.myshopify.com(opens in a new window).