The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Thursday, Nov. 30, 2023 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Ring in spooky season with Transactor Improv’s “Sock-Hop Obsession”

transactors improv group

Members of Transactors Improv Company performing during an improv show. (From left, Greg Hohn, Steve Scott, Bart Hubbard, Juliet Kaplan, Jane Allen Wilson, Anoo Tree Brod.) Photo courtesy of Sara Woodmansee.

Spooky season is here, and Transactors Improv Company is performing an improv show focused on suspense, creepiness and the theme of obsession. 

The show, called “Sock-Hop Obsession,” will take place at the ArtsCenter on Oct. 5. It will be set in a 1950s era high school, and will feature musical guest Dex Romweber, a roots-rock musician from Chapel Hill. 

Greg Hohn, cast member and director of transactors, said the theme of the show came about from listening to Romweber’s music. He said a lot of the music has an old-school feel, and that got them thinking about how many songs from the 1950s are really about obsession. 

“We’re playing with that fun repressed energy that was more prevalent at that time,” said cast member Anoo Tree Brod. “I think when things aren’t as out there as we are now, a lot more can brew underneath the surface.” 

The show will be long-form improvisation, similar to a two-act play, with the cast taking suggestions from the audience, said Hohn. The music Romweber and his band plays will also be improvised. 

Brod said the combination of live improvised music and live improvised theater is not something you see very often. 

“They inspire us and we inspire their music, and it’s kinda like this give and take,” Brod said. 

Hohn said the show is different from an average improv shows because, while it will have comedy, they’re focusing more on the psychological drama.

“We really like to explore emotional worlds — we tend to focus more on emotion rather than ideas or being clever,” Hohn said. “We’re trying to get at the heart of characters and explore what that’s all about.” 

Brod said it’s been interesting to explore this theme of obsession and how it affects people, and that it is genuinely creepy. She said that sometimes during rehearsals, the cast will freak themselves out. 

The cast doesn’t rehearse the exact theme they’re going to play the night of the show, Brod said, because they want to keep it fresh. Instead, they’ll practice improvising around similar themes or settings. Recently, they did a rehearsal set in a police station in the 1960s. 

Romweber said that rehearsal for him is about trying to figure out the music — which he said was David Lynch-ian, '50s moody instrumental music and rock ‘n' roll. 

Brod said that, during a good improv show, the cast and the audience are in it together. She said anyone who comes to the show will be thoroughly entertained because the cast feeds off the suggestions and energy of the crowd. 

“Improvisation is such an alive art form that you just never know what’s gonna happen, so it’s really exciting,” Brod said. “And then I think adding the element of having these amazing musicians, it’s just gonna get you in the mood for having fun and Halloween.”

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.