Gymprov

In continued pursuit of alternative sport/art syntheses, I am wondering: can improvised pickup basketball be merged with improv acting to create artistic basketball theatre? I am envisioning a five-on-five pickup game of Good versus Evil, where ten actors play the voices of the ten basketball players and improvise dialogue depending on what happens in the action (over microphones, they are not seen — akin to the skit on Whose Line is it Anyway? in which Ryan Stiles does the sound effects for Colin Mochrie). Throw in stage lighting and costumes and you've got a pretty neat performance art.

Linds had the great suggestion of the classic Christian tale of Jesus' temptation by the Devil as a potential candidate for this concept, with the best player on each team in the lead roles. I would also like to see something Shakespearean attempted, or perhaps West Side Story. The story's characters would already have to be well known to the audience for this to work, since there would be little time for character development with players only hitting jumpshots every once in a while.

Obviously, the whole thing lies in the talent of the actors to generate intelligent, emotional, and appropriate improvised dialogue — they must react to the players. However, as the performance gets better, the players would also be able to react to the dialogue; therefore, it is necessary to have players that can be expressive with the way they move their bodies on the basketball court. The final person that would need great improv skills would be the lighting technician, who could modify the stage lighting in response to both players and actors — but now I may be getting a little too far ahead of myself.

The cool thing about this is that the theatre would have a different ending every night. Can you imagine playing the role of Jesus and missing the last-second buzzer beater from 20 feet? And if the emotion had been built up properly during the game, can you imagine how empty the crowd would go home feeling knowing the Devil had won?

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