Afternoon at the Improv is a comedy about the audition process of a major television improvisation show. Actors of all types, experience, and backgrounds are waiting for their chance to dazzle the directors with their talents. The play invites the performers to insert their own preferences and talents into the story and even encourages audience participation. This is great play for non-traditional spaces and a favorite of audiences and the student actors!
Elizabeth Rapoza first began writing plays for and with children over 30 years ago. All of Liz Rapoza’s plays are kid and audience tested, some many times over. Her youth play, “Perstephanie Goes Underground” won the Boston Public Schools Short Play Development Award. Her adult radio comedy “The Amazing Adventures of Pajamazon” was a winner in Mae West Fest of Seattle’s search for the Ultimate Female Protagonist. Her plays have also been performed at such venues as SlamBoston and the Factory Theater Boston. In addition, Liz is also a professional actor, dancer, musician, vocalist, puppeteer/puppet constructor and costumer. She has taught college theater courses since 2003. Liz currently teaches at Cape Cod Community College and the Zeiterion Theater, New Bedford, Ma.
Excerpt from the play:
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Rose– Small town farm girl hoping for her big break
Jesse– Rose’s brother. Cowboy type. Also hoping for big break.
Chloe– Gum smacking Jersey girl
MaryAnne – Untalented but enthusiastic hopeful
Jack– Old pro on the improv circuit
Billy– Another old pro and crony of Jack
Jody– A tough, native New Yorker
Rachel– Another tough, native New Yorker
Bette– Model, aspiring actress. New-age airhead
Marilyn– Model, aspiring actress. Vain and self-absorbed</span
Denny– Scruffy-looking street person. Former improv star
Mr. Farrell – The Director
Mr. Darrow – The Producer
Ms. Merrill – The Production Assistant. Uppity and efficient
SET: A television studio. Any open space works. Couches and chairs are arranged around the stage area. There is a desk with pens and applications on clipboards stage right.
COSTUMES: Each character is a bit of a stereotype and their clothing should reflect that. It’s fun to let the students decide what costumes pieces bring that character to life. Wigs and hats are also fun.
* This play is designed to give student actors the opportunity to work with broad characterizations and regional dialects. They should be encouraged to jump into these wholeheartedly.
* The play ends with the actual auditions. Auditions can be a showcase for any actor’s prepared song, dance, monologue or other legitimate talent. Auditions can also be deliberately terrible and comically bad. Again, their audition should be appropriate for their character. Example: Rose and Jesse do the Cotton-eyed Joe.
(Merrill stands behind the desk handing out applications and pens to the auditionees, who wait in a line. Actors may also enter in groups according to scenes)
(To each auditionee as they enter) Please fill this out and give it back to me. Attach your resume and headshot…(pause, looks over auditionees) if you have one. We’ll call you when it’s your turn. (Auditionees scatter around the room to fill out their forms. Rose, Jesse and Chloe sit together at a table)
This is so exciting! I’ve never been so nervous in my life. Not even when I was crowned Miss Fried Pork Rinds at the 4H Fair.
Me neither! I couldn’t sleep at all last night. I was tossin’ and turnin, turnin and tossin’, tossin’ and turnin’ all night.
I couldn’t sleep either! I so wanted to be well-rested for today, but oh well…
(To Chloe) What are y’all doin’ for your prepared piece in this here audition?
Oh, I’m doing (actor’s choice). I do it at every audition. It’s my favorite.
You’re kidding! I was almost going to do that! Boy, am I glad that I decided to do something else instead.
So what are you doing instead?
I’m doing (actor’s choice), but only because I can (verb describing choice) really well.
(Guffaws) You should see her! I wish I could (same verb as above) like that. (Pause. To Chloe) Hey, you know how part of the audition is in groups of three or four? What say we try and go in together?
(Somewhat reluctantly) Sure…I guess.
Great! I’m Jesse and this here’s my sister Rosie. (Shakes her hand vigorously)
Rose not Rosie! Cut it out Jesse! You make us sound like a couple of hicks.
Well heck Rose, we are a couple o’ hicks.
(Snapping her gum) Pleased to meet ya Jesse and Rose. I‘m Chloe. Is this your first time in the big city?
(Embarrassed) Does it show that much?
She can probably smell the cow manure stuck to our boots. (Guffaw)
(Glaring) I said cut it out Jesse. (Pause) I guess maybe we just look too healthy and rosie-cheeked to be city slickers. We stick out like a sore thumb.
Honey, I’m from Jersey and let me tell you, we got lots worse smells than cow manure in certain sections of the “Garden State”.