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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Local improv group calling OAT home

  • Troupe to debut Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Cedar St. Playhouse
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  • When the Stop Making Sense Improv troupe takes to the stage this Saturday, Sept. 7, at 7:30 p.m., they will do so on their new home turf, 701 North Cedar St.
    "We are thrilled to have Stop Making Sense become a resident of the Cedar Street Playhouse," said Jason Cannon, producing artistic director for the Ozark Actors Theatre (OAT).
    This local comedy group is led by veteran actor and improv artist John Arata.
    "We are excited to be here in our new permanent home. It is something that we have been looking for for about a year now," said Arata.
    In addition, he said that he couldn't be happier with the current lineup of artists he has with him. He and Adrian Davey, Cornell Nichols III, Dirk Frisbee and Paul Frisbee have been rehearsing their cadre of skits and spontaneous scenes since February of this year.
    "We have been meeting regularly on Wednesday nights at andFLEW! Studios," Arata told the Daily News.
    In between, they have had a handful of performances. In June, Stop Making Sense was the opening act for the Little Piney Hellbenders at the Lyric Live Theater in Newburg.
    Also they have delighted audiences at Sybill's Restaurant and were most recently part of the KMST FM's 40th anniversary celebration at the Leach Theatre in August.
    The Frisbee brothers, Dirk and Paul, have been active in the local improv scene for many years now. The two were part of a student improv group on the campus of Missouri University of Science and Technology back in the late '90s.
    Cannon is enthusiastic about the local connection of the group.
    "What's great about Stop Making Sense is that they all live in the area and are fully invested in not just entertaining but educating the community," he shared. "Improv is a timeless theatrical form, and these guys combine true expertise with a joyful desire to share laughter.
    "One of the rules of improv is to accept all," said Paul.
    Paul said that while the term improv or improvisation connotes no rules, there are a handful of guidelines that make for a successful show.
    "You must accept what ever gift is offered," he said.
    He added that usually comes in the form of a strange scene or word combination which is suggested by the audience and must be acted out. Improv relies a lot on audience participation.
    "Show, don't tell is another rule of improv," added Dirk. "You do not ever want to have to explain what is going on."
    According to Cannon, Saturday night's show at the Cedar Street Playhouse is just the beginning of number of regular shows he hopes the men of Stop Making Sense will perform.
    Page 2 of 2 - "By having fun, gut-busting improvisational comedy about once a month, we hope to grow the audience of our Performing Arts Series," noted Cannon. "Stop Making Sense enables us to heighten the viability of the Performing Arts Series by building a following that will also hopefully translate into larger and even more enthusiastic summer season audiences."
    He added that future shows will focus on seasonal themes, such as Halloween, Christmas or Valentine's Day. Stop Making Sense also plans to partner with OAT U, the education program at OAT, to offer improv classes to the community.

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