If a small troupe of actors shows up at your St. Paul workplace this month and begins performing something that makes sense only to you, do not be alarmed. In fact, it may be best to play along.
That’s because you are likely — if unwittingly — part of the act.
In an innovative effort to bring improvisational theater to a wider audience, Danger Boat Productions will use funding from the Knight Foundation to make the rounds of St. Paul on Aug. 19 for a series of short skits under the title All St. Paul’s a Stage.
Tane Danger, one of the group’s founders, said more than 50 area improv actors plan to deliver up to 300 performances across St. Paul that day. From coffee shops to offices, City Hall to public parks, small teams of actors will launch into performances called “improvgrams” brainstormed by people who submitted ideas to the group’s website, improvgram.com.
Danger Boat has a total budget of $30,000, including $15,000 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and a $5,000 St. Paul Cultural STAR grant. People can order improvgrams online at a cost of $15 each, Danger said.
“This is entirely co-created by those sending the ideas and the artists performing the improvisation,” Danger said. “We wanted to create a platform for people to create art and theater all over St. Paul. This is an enormous collaborative project.”
Said Brandon Boat, the group’s other co-creator: “We usually expect people to come to the theater, but why not bring the theater to them? No one has ever done something quite like this before in St. Paul, or in any other city that we’re aware of.”
Bahia Ramos, arts program director for Knight Foundation, said art doesn’t have to be “solely the province of galleries and symphony halls. When you bring it into people’s everyday lives, their offices, the market, the street, something magical happens. People rethink how they see their cities and their lives.”
Using actors culled from such Twin Cities-based companies as Brave New Workshop, Stevie Ray’s Improv Company and the HUGE Improv Theater, as well as the Black Dirt Theater in Hastings, All St. Paul’s a Stage will offer 5- to 8-minute shows. Danger said the group has received a handful of ideas but is eager to get more. Everything from the history of a famous place to a happy birthday is fair game.
“Some of [the ideas] make no sense to us, but I hope they make sense for the people receiving them,” Danger said.
Danger Boat Productions was created as a way to use improv to help clarify complicated ideas and issues, said Danger. He and Boat are graduates of Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter and have worked as artists in residence at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. They are the creative force behind the Theater of Public Policy, a civics-inspired improv comedy group.
Danger said they have been thinking about what to do for an encore next year.
“We have figured out the logistics, how it’s going to work,” he said. “That makes us sort of bullish about ‘Oh, we can do this again.’ ”
Who knows? Maybe Minneapolis next time.