How has the first year been for Huge Theater, the improv-based venue in Lyn-Lake?
"It's all a blur to me," says Butch Roy, the theater's executive director.
That's not surprising. Over the past 12, months the company has seen its ups and downs -- including a massive blizzard last December on its opening weekend -- but Huge has remained committed to its mission of providing a home for its signature style of theater.
Of course, young theaters can always use a boost. So, in conjunction with Give to the Max Day on Wednesday, the folks at Huge will hold a 24-hour Improv-a-Thon, with festivities starting at 10 p.m. Tuesday evening.
So, anytime Wednesday -- the middle of the night, that hazy time between getting up and going to work, the time you should be working hard in the office but you have an excuse to get away for a couple of hours -- people can head over to Lyndale Avenue and watch theater created right before their eyes by one of the many regular troupes. The suggested donation is $10.
Huge has also been taking donations ahead of time as votes for different groups. The "winners" will be honored with the worst possible slots, such as the one in the morning just before everyone goes to work, Roy says.
The Twin Cities hosts a large number of improv groups and training programs, which has created a thriving scene. In Huge's case, it focuses on long-form improvisation. Meaning, instead of a short sketch being created from audience suggestions, a fully fledged story is told, created on the fly by the performers.
From here, just about any style of theater or entertainment can be tackled, from musicals to geek-friendly fare like Star Trek, which was the new theater's first big success.
The company, which includes Roy, Jill Bernard, and Nels Lennes, started in 2005 by producing pieces around the Twin Cities, along with the annual Improv Fest. Last year, the time had come to find a place of its own that could serve as a central home for the different long-form shows from the area.
"Early on, we knew that there was a clear lack of a stage," he says. "And it came to a point where it wasn't practical to continue on without a stage."
After taking over the building at 3037 Lyndale Avenue, the core group worked to get the space ready as a theater. It's actually a process that is ongoing. "I try to do something to improve it every day," Roy says.
The space got a boost last summer when it served as a venue for the Minnesota Fringe Festival. This brought a fresh audience through its doors, including plenty that didn't know there was a theater south of Lake and Lyndale.
The first year has meant plenty of learning for the company -- from figuring out which nights work best to making sure the rent can be paid each month -- but, as you might expect from a theater led by improvisers, the folks at Huge are good at rolling with the punches.
IF YOU GO:
Improv-a-Thon 10 p.m. Tuesday through midnight Wednesday $10 suggested donation 3037 Lyndale Ave., Minneapolis 612.412.4843 Full schedule here: hugetheater.com/improv-a-thon
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