iTi Interview 2015

Many thanks to the International TheatreSports Institute (iTi), who featured an interview with our Artistic Director Gary Best in their June 2015 newsletter!

About the iTi: The International Theatresports™ Institute (iTi) is dedicated to supporting, developing, connecting and promoting the growing community of improvisers who work with Keith Johnstone’s improvisational techniques and formats.

ITI: What is your group name?
VIC: Ventura Improv Company

ITI: What is your name?
VIC: Gary Best, Artistic Director

ITI: Where are you located?
VIC: 34 N Palm, Ventura, CA

ITI: When did your group start?
VIC: 1989

ITI: How did your group start?
VIC: We had read about Theatresports because one our members’ (Dorothy Scott) daughter was performing in San Francisco. Barb Scott came to Ventura and conducted a workshop and we were hooked. We had been rudderless…. performing improv for about 5 yrs previous but Keith’s work gave a clear framework within which to grow.

ITI: What shows does your company perform?
VIC: We have performed Theatresports, Gorilla, Spontaneous Broadway, as well as several formats of our own contrivance. Including long-form. Lately, I confess, we have been performing more open formats. (Sans competition)

ITI: How often do you perform?
VIC: At least every Friday and Saturday night.

ITI: Where do you perform?
VIC: Our theater is a wonderful old barn of a building that’s been around over one-hundred yrs old. We were lucky in that about a dozen yrs ago it changed ownership and the new owner helped us reconfigure the room so that we have a somewhat proper stage, greenroom and box office.

ITI: What is the oddest impro moment you or your group has had?
VIC: Too many! One that pops to mind…I was performing Character Switch with Katherine Kasmir and I challenged her to a game of Russian roulette. She instantly said, “I’ll get the knives!” After she realized what she had said she started laughing so hard they had to keep switching me to talk to myself to continue the scene.

ITI: What is your, or your group, most uplifting or memorable impro moment?
VIC: The Friday after 9/11 we were in a quandary as to whether or not to do a show. We finally put up a notice saying we would do a show for those that needed a break and we’d donate all the money. That small audience needed to laugh so badly that the evening lifted to the sky. Unforgettable.

ITI: What do you feel are the strengths of your company?
VIC: Our intentions are good, I think. We strive for scenes. We stress listening. We try to take care of each other. Not sure what this means but we are proud to have one of the highest ratios of women to men of any group I know about. We try to do the right thing. We owe so much of our vision to Tom Mueller who has been the guiding light for the last 25 years. (He said he retired last year. He is still very active!)

ITI: What is your favorite quote that can relate to improvisation?
VIC: If you are not willing to be changed you aren’t really listening.

ITI: Anything you’d like to say to all the international improvisers who are reading this?
VIC: We are with you. If you are ever in California, please stop in and play with us.