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Echoes is using dream logic for a full-on comedy trip

The Echoes aren't like other improv groups. Inspired by dream logic, this North Carolina-based group will be bringing audiences on an unexpected trip at The PIT on Saturday at 8 p.m. 

Founded by Carolyn Cole, The Echoes differentiate themselves from other Triangle improv troupes by their performance of the J.T.S. Brown, a style of improv based on dream logic and visceral scene transformations. 

The J.T.S. Brown was developed by the improv group of the same name in Chicago from 1998 to 2000. Designed for 10 to 14 people, the style is  centered around the notion that every scene transition is a  transformation, taking something from the previous scene and shifting it slightly to create a new scene. 

Cole founded Echoes based on the teachings of Craig Cackowski, an actor, comedian and veteran improv instructor of Chicago’s Second City and iO (Improv Olympic) theaters. He helped to pioneer the J.T.S. Brown form in improv. 

Cole went to a training at Camp Improv Utopia in Yosemite with Cackowski, and then brought the form back to the Triangle. As interest grew in the form, the group that is now Echoes set up a weekly Skype system with Cackowski in order to fully master the style. 

Jennifer Van Vickle,  another member of Echoes, said the empathy and positive attitude associated with performing is something that can affect life off the stage as much as on it. 

"I think it (improv) kind of transfers into the rest of life, so that in improv when you have that attitude towards your fellow players, it translates into  the rest of your life — so you have that attitude towards the people around you," Van Vickle said. 

Norman Storwick, another member of Echoes, said doing improv in the group has changed his life.

"I've  been performing for about five years and it really has changed my life, and has really changed every aspect of my life," Storwick said. "It's made me much more  aware of the situations, the people, life around me — made me a much more active participant. It's a little bit trite, but people always say that improv is all about "Yes, and," and it's really true. I have been able to say yes to a lot of things that would've made me uncomfortable before I started performing improv."