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Monday October 25th


Improv company frightens, delights with interactive show

In the spirit of Halloween, Transactor’s Improv will host an improvisational performance titled “Day of the Dead” which plays on horror and mystery themes.

“Day of the Dead” will start tonight at 8 p.m. at the ArtsCenter in Carrboro.

To Jeri Lynn Schulke, director of ArtsCenter Stage, “Day of the Dead” is more than just a fun event — it is an in-depth level of improvisation.

“They’re really talented,” Schulke said. “I’ve seen them do really long-form improvs, where they’re interweaving story lines of characters and revisiting earlier stories from the performance.”

She said audience members can expect to be more than just passive viewers, and may be asked to get involved in the performance.

“The actors allow the audience to make suggestions, and based on the suggestions they receive, Transactors creates their show.”

Instrumental band Killer Filler plays improvisational music based upon the company’s performance.

“It’s a group effort and we work off of each other. One person might have an idea but another person will take the play in a different direction,” said Transactor’s performer Greg Hohn.

Hohn, who came up with the idea behind “Day of the Dead,” has been with the company for more than 24 years in addition to teaching applied improv at the Kenan-Flagler Business School. While planning the show, Hohn said he wanted to include themes from cliche horror movies.

“It seemed like a good seasonal thing,” Hohn said. “I mean, it’s Halloween!”

While the company hosts other themed shows around Valentine’s Day, New Year’s and Christmas, past audience members found the Halloween show especially creepy, Schulke said.

“We focus a lot on emotion. Emotions steer our characters and create these themes,” Hohn said. “We play with different emotions so the audience can react however they want.”

Hohn’s fellow cast member, Anoo Bard, said preparing for the event was a team effort.

“It’s like playing a team sport. You wouldn’t know what was happening the day of the game but you would play together and practice together,” Bard said.

To some, making stories up on the spot might seem as horrifying as walking through a haunted house, but actors of the company said it is liberating.

“This is what we did as little kids. We would make up stories with no problem and at some point we get away from that,” Hohn said.

“Sometimes we have to get out of our own way and let the creative force move through each of us, that way it is not about us trying to figure things out, it’s just an open vessel,” Bard said.

Transactors, which has been a part of the ArtsCenter since 1974, hopes “Day of the Dead” will be fun, creepy and crawly.

“People can expect to get the Halloween feeling,” Schulke said. “And it’s chock full of good improv!”

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