by Courtney Hopkin
Improv troupes are generally loosely packed balls of sand. Stuck together at the beginning by the excitement for new friendship and bonds, the ball slowly comes apart, first with a trickle and eventually disintegrating back on to the beach.
So it’s no small feat that Austin Improv troupe Parallelogramophonograph just celebrated 10 years together. To mark the occasion, the foursome (Kareem Badr, Valerie Ward, Kaci Beeler and Roy Janik) rented out the historic Scottish Rite Theater on Friday, November 13th. To make it even more special, they invited local legendary band White Ghost Shivers to improvise a score to Parallelogramophonograph’s 1940s screwball format as it was being performed.
Janik and Badr are part owners of the Hideout Theatre, where Pgraph (a necessary nickname for anyone writing/saying Parallelogramophonograph more than once) performs weekly and has done so for the past 5 and a half years. But for their 10th anniversary celebration, they looked out to the community beyond their home stage to add some glitz to the occasion.
“The wood and velvet antique vibe really matches the Parallelogramophonograph aesthetic of anything that feels like it’s from 1860-1940,” Janik said. “Also, one of our favorite Pgraph shows was at the Scottish Rite during OOB [Out of Bounds], And we’ve wanted to come back ever since.”
Anyone who has seen PGraph knows what a natural fit having the White Ghost Shivers play with them is. The Shivers specialize in jangly, jazzy, wild dance hall music, the perfect complement to Pgraph’s winky, noddy, smarty, serious, funny, vaudevillian style.
“They’re hard working and antiquated and cool,” Janik said about the Shivers. “We’ve basically been looking for an excuse to do something with them.”
Pgraph packed the 300 seat venue, wowed the audience and then partied hard into the night to celebrate their over 600 shows, performing all over the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia and ten fucking years of improv together.
Courtney Hopkin is a producer for Austin Sketch Fest and part of the much loved sketch group Your Terrific Neighbors. Courtney has performed sketch, improv and theater in Austin for 15 years.