Black Dirt Theater holds 13-hour improv comedy marathon in HastingsAll throughout New Year’s Eve, a band of nomadic improv comedians strode through Hastings. For 13 hours straight, the group went from location to location, all in the name of fun.
By: Chad Richardson, The Hastings Star-Gazette
All throughout New Year’s Eve, a band of nomadic improv comedians strode through Hastings. For 13 hours straight, the group went from location to location, all in the name of fun.
It was the first improv comedy marathon by Black Dirt Theater. The group entertained at Cub Foods, the radio station, the veterans home, the B. Robert Lewis House, Regina Medical Center and a private party, among other stops. They capped off the evening with performances at the Green Mill Event Center.
The marathon was a way for the group to raise money and awareness for a big step in their future. The theater company will be renting a space in downtown Hastings, and the funds will be used to help renovate that space.
So right there among the produce during a busy day at Cub Foods stood five folks who were doing everything they could to get others to laugh. Among those working hard to get folks to pause for a few minutes and smile was Libby Burkitt, Black Dirt Theater’s executive director.
“I personally liked Cub the best,” she said. “It was so fun to delight people who were not expecting it. Although, I will say, the residents at Regina were awesome and have just the best senses of humor. And some of them really pushed the family friendly boundary, too.”
Some members of the group performed for more than six hours that day, Burkitt said. Everyone was exhausted by day’s end.
“There isn’t exactly a way to pace yourself in improv, so there is no such thing as saving your strength,” she said.
As a fundraiser, the effort was successful, Burkitt said.
“We were able to surpass our fund-raising goal, which is fantastic and exciting,” she said. “And, as far as bringing the community together … I would say that was quite successful. How cool to be on the radio and our community television station on the same day.”
Locations were chosen in part based on Black Dirt’s mission to bring theater to people who may not otherwise get a chance to experience it.
Black Dirt Theater, a non-profit, will be housed at the former Riviera Theater, thanks in large part to the donation of 1,200 square feet of space by Al Blankenship.
Initially, the marathon figured to be a way to raise funds for the space, but with Blankenship’s donation, Black Dirt was able to concentrate instead on raising funds to renovate the space.
There will be an office, a large rehearsal space and an efficiency apartment, which will be used to help in the recruitment of out-of-town directors and leaders.
For the past few years, much of the work has been done in founder Andy Langenfeld’s garage.
“As far as rehearsal space goes, (this will be) invaluable,” Burkitt said. “We do not lack for performance spaces in town – we are blessed with two fully equipped faciliites at the middle school and high school. But it is hard to find consistent and inexpensive places to rehearse. … Having a space that can be lived in and messed with makes the collaborative creative process so much easier. The bottom line is that it is a huge step up from Andy’s garage.”
Black Dirt Theater has a pair of improv comedy shows coming up on Jan. 12. They will be at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the Green Mill Event Center.
Tickets are available online at www.blackdirttheater.com.
A production of “I do! I do!” is set for Feb. 1-3, Feb. 8-10 and Feb. 14-17.