Cast of characters

The faces, places, and prices of PIF4
By BILL RODRIGUEZ  |  June 19, 2007
Improv comedy sure is catching on — with performers as well as audiences, if this year’s 4th Annual Providence Improv Fest is any indication. Seventy-five groups applied from around the country, twice the number that wanted to get in last year.
The performances at Perishable Theatre, Trinity Repertory Company, and the Rhode Island Theater Ensemble will hand the stages to 34 improvisational comedy acts. From long-form and short-form sketches to rap and spontaneous songs in the tradition of musicals, the variations are endless.
The acts will range widely in style and number. Jill Bernard is a one-woman punk musical act from Minneapolis, exploring historical periods to the pulse of a beatbox. The 19-member Neutrino Boston uses video, improvising on the street according to audience suggestions and immediately screening the results.
For something else a little different, Improv Boston’s the Robert Cycle (not to be confused with Improv Boston Mainstage, which also is appearing) will come up with a fresh play about “King Robert,” in Shakespearean mode. The New York group Shiofuki ambitiously incorporates elements of performance art into their sketches. The four-person San Francisco troupe Crisis Hopkins was named after a 19th-century San Francisco street preacher who stopped people to lecture them about the benefits of free-thinking; they perform free-style rap and long-form scenes.
Groups that have been popular in the past are back by popular demand at PIF4, such as the musical improvising New York female duo I Eat Pandas and the New York Neo-Futurists, who perform stream of consciousness collages of 30 plays in 60 minutes.
Opening the festival on Wednesday at Trinity Rep is a “Local Improv Blowout,” in which nine local groups vie for prime time readiness. The audience will vote for who gets a second gig on Saturday night. Performing three at a time are the following: Distinguished Wheat, a duo from Moses Brown; Dos Personas, specializing in two-person long-form; Friday Night Live, Everett Dance Theatre’s comedy troupe; Harry Houdini’s Box of Doom, from Providence College; Inside Jokes, a six-member group that appeared at PIF3; Rejects on the Rise, a short-form troupe based at Providence College; Spontaneous Generation, from Newton [MA] North High School; Thibowla Virus, comprised of Tim Thidodeau and Melissa Bowler; and the Trinity Zoo, consisting of nine local teenagers.
On Thursday through Sunday two groups perform in each set, and tickets at the door are $10. For show times, descriptions of the groups, and information on discount multiple-show passes and improv workshops, go to
Related: Top Ten Boston CDs: week of June 25, 2006, Top ten Boston CDs: week of May 28, 2006, Top Ten Boston CDs - March 26, 2006, More more >
  Topics: Theater , Entertainment, Performing Arts, Stand-up Comedy,  More more >
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