Dad’s Garage Uses Art to Spark Improv This Thursday

Dad's Garage performers responding to ballet.
Trevor Wayne, Golden Heroes, at Dad's Garage
Trevor Wayne’s painting Golden Heroes, acrylic on canvas, 20 by 30 inches.

Atlanta’s favorite improv theater Dad’s Garage has used opera and ballet as a catalyst for its improv events, and this Thursday, March 8, visual art will get the improv ball rolling. Using the “queer-tinged” pop art of L.A. artist and actor/model Trevor Wayne, who, according to his website, “makes no secret of the fact that his art career is supported in large part by his work as a model and actor, and that he often appears in work with explicit gay sexual themes.” 

The evening will also include a couple of SharpieBattles by the Lotus Eaters Club, a drawing  showdown for which the marker pens are the weapons of choice. Tickets are only $7.50 and affordable works by Wayne will be available for purchase. 

We did a Google Hangout with Kevin Gillese, Dad’s artistic director, to find out what’s so funny about art.

So, tell us about this upcoming show using art as a starting point for improv comedy. Whose idea was it and what’s the thinking behind it?

Well, here at Dad’s Garage we’re always looking to partner with different companies, individuals, art forms, etc., to help push our work into new and exciting places. This is why in the past we’ve done projects with Atlanta Opera, Atlanta Ballet, and other very non-traditional partners for a comedy theatre.

My wife Amber first suggested it, she’s also an ensemble member here at the theatre, but she’s best known for her voice work on the animated series Archer.

Anyways, she met Trevor out in LA and really loved his work and suggested maybe we try to collaborate and see what happens.

And here we are!

That gets to my next question. With so many artists in ATL, why import?

It’s more about connecting with people who are up for trying something new. It really wasn’t so much a matter of whether we should or shouldn’t work with him because he’s from LA. We were  just happening to have a conversation with an artist we liked that happened to be from LA.

That being said we’re hoping that this new type of show will be a model that we can use to work with local visual artists as well. I’ve already had a few initial conversations with some potentials.

What was it about Kevin’s work that triggered the idea?

I think the pop sensibility and quirky sense of humor in his work helped inspire us.

Dad's Garage performers responding to ballet.
Dad’s Garage performers have used other art forms, such as ballet, as an improv catalyst.

Can you give us a sense of how it will go based on previous shows with opera and ballet? Like, is art the butt of some jokes? Because we know it is in real life.

No not really. With the ballet and the opera we merged the forms (ie: improv and dance) but this one will be much morel like our Poets and Madmen series, where we work with local poets to inspire our improv.

That is to say: We will take a piece and pull it apart a bit, ie: what’s the inspiration for it, what do we see when we see it, etc. Then base several scenes off of bits of info that emerged in that dissection.

Who are the Lotus Eaters Club?

They are a group of local muralists and street artists, we have collaborated with them in the past and their new “Sharpie Battles” seemed like a perfect addition to this evening of art and improv.

What happens during a Sharpie Battle?

Two artists come onstage and get a suggestion from the audience and then have a set amount of time to create a piece of art exploring that suggestion using only their Sharpies and some paper. The audience votes on a winner at the end. I’m hoping for two battles.

What makes this different from other forms you use as inspiration for improv?

The biggest difference is that normally every other art form that we mash up with is performance-based, like opera singing, ballet dancing, spoken word poetry. And this is not. So we have to take a bit of a different approach.

Have you all practiced? I guess that wouldn’t really be improv then.

Not at all, but that’s not strange for us. We work on our improv skills all the time so that we can jump into new projects like this and just see what happens!

Maybe the lesson is that art shouldn’t take itself so seriously? Does improv take itself seriously?

You know, I’m always looking for that perfect balance in both the art and the artist. I’d say there’s plenty of art that shouldn’t take itself so seriously. But then there’s improv that maybe should take itself more seriously. Except for the folks that take it too seriously, they need to chill out. You know?

Yeah. So why should visual artists and art lovers come to this show?

I’d say they should come out if they’re interested in having some fun, checking out the work of a visual artist they probably haven’t experienced before, and especially if they want to try experimenting with us on exploring a new way of experiencing art in a live setting … too many long words that start with e in that last sentence.

Anything else we need to know?

We have a full bar so if you hate the show at least there’s drinks. ☺

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