Lorna Landvik on her yearly improv party: "I always enjoy my pre-show wig shopping"

Lorna Landvik on her yearly improv party: "I always enjoy my pre-show wig shopping"
Photo courtesy Lorna Landvik

At the start of each new year, writer and performer Lorna Landvik turns her attention to the Bryant-Lake Bowl for a month of improvised performances. Party in the Rec Room has attracted a dedicated audience eager for Landvik's unique characters, most of which are created fresh for each performance.

Landvik has written eight novels, including the recent Mayor of the Universe. She has performed with the likes of the Brave New Workshop, the Mary Worth Theater, and others around town.

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City Pages: Along with the sold-out audiences, what brings you back to do Party in the Rec Room each year?

Lorna Landvik: What makes me come back year after year is the sheer fun of it. It's become my New Year's tradition. I look forward to seeing the faces of people who come year after year, as well as new audience members. I love the Bryant-Lake Bowl -- what a concept, a theater/bowling alley/restaurant/bar -- and I enjoy when book-club members from the suburbs get to experience the place for the first time.

CP: How did the idea first come about, and how has it evolved over the years?

LL: Having done improvisation for years with groups in Los Angeles, as well as with Dudley Riggs here, I've always loved the freewheeling format. I'd written some one-woman and two-women shows, performed them at the Bryant-Lake Bowl, and got to wondering what it would be like to do improvisation all by myself.

One summer, the BLB had an all-women comedy event. I decided to try it out there, and have been doing it annually -- and sometimes bi-annually -- ever since. Improvisation has its risks. I do have those moments when I've gotten audience suggestions and go backstage to grab a hat or wig and think, 'What am I going to do?' but I know when I come back onstage, I've got to open my mouth and entertain.  My personal goals are to surprise myself as well as the audience.  

CP: Do you have stock characters you draw on for the different performances? Or does it all swirl out of the audience suggestions?

LL: I have a stock character that, by popular demand, ends every show. I don't have a revolving stock of characters, although I will occasionally bring back a character I've had a lot of fun with and want to play around with a little more. The characters will come out of the suggestions as well as the props. I always enjoy my pre-show wig shopping!

CP: Tell us more about the wig shopping.

LL: It's just one of the fun things I look forward to -- what new wig can I add to my collection?  I usually go to the Magic and Costume Shop on Robert Street in downtown St. Paul, and buy one or two that strike my fancy. I don't go in there with a shopping list, but let inspiration be my guide: "Oh wow, look at that surfer wig!'" or "Oh man, I love those braids!" 

CP: What else do you have planned for 2013? 

LL: I continue to write. I self-published a novel called Mayor of the Universe, and hope to traditionally publish another novel in 2013. I recently did a show up in Stockholm, Wisconsin, called Pages and Stages, which included a presentation about writing during a morning brunch, and an evening performance of Party in the Rec Room. I'd like to start touring with that. Also, I'm planning to keep up my yoga. One of these days I'll figure out how to do Hurdler's Pose!


Party in the Rec Room
7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays
Through January 26
Bryant-Lake Bowl
810 W. Lake St., Minneapolis
For tickets and more information, call 612.825.8949 or visit online
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Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater

810 W. Lake St.
Minneapolis, MN 55408


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