POSTED Fri. May 27, 2016

Creative Culture

A Scripted Scene & An Improv Act Walk Into a Bar...
Cree McCree
Written by CREE MCCREE

Is a goat sacrifice about to happen? Or are overzealous cops trying to stop a posse of marauding goats?

What started out as a simple scene about a couple arguing over their goat herd has veered off in two wildly different directions, neither of which the playwright anticipated.

What the heck is going on?

You Don’t Know the Half of It. It’s a rollicking evening of improvised theater that rocks Le Petit Theatre for one night only on Sunday, June 5.

For four years running, Cecile Monteyne and her team have been delighting and baffling actors and audiences alike with a fiendishly clever premise.

Local playwrights knock out four fresh short scripts, which are each split in two. Every other line is crossed out, with one actor getting one half of the script, and the other its mirror image. Neither actor sees the whole scene.

The night of the show, each of the assigned actors is paired with an improviser, who can take the scene in whatever direction they like. The actor, however, can never deviate from the scripted lines, no matter what curve balls the improviser throws.

The result is always unpredictable, and often hilarious, as the same comedy of errors plays out over the course of four different split-in-two scenes.

The best part? Unlike the poor actors, the audience is privy to both halves of the script.

“As audience, when you get to the second half of the scene, you get to see the resolution of the other side of the script,” explains Monteyne. “Sometimes improvisers go way out on a limb. And sometimes the right line just comes out, and everyone goes crazy.”

Adding to the mayhem? Interludes between scenes are filled with music by You Don’t Know the Band, a rotating group of musicians from well-known local bands, including Sweet Crude, Alexis & the Samurai, Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes and Gasa Gasa’s Plus One show.

“The musicians get the scenes ahead of time,” says Monteyne. “So they can rewrite and create mashups between the scenes. We have quite the musical catalogue now of reworded scenes.”

Since 2012, You Don’t Know has showcased more than 165 local playwrights, actors, improvisers and musicians, many of whom don’t normally get the chance to work with one another.

“Over the course of our history, we’ve had people from pretty much all the local theater companies,” says Monteyne, who loves the sense of community the series fosters. “It creates a dialogue between all our different disciplines and organizations.”

But even for old pros, the crazy-quilt format can be a little disconcerting.

“Writers use it as a really fun experiment for pushing their boundaries,” she notes. “After the first time, they understand what it’s about and know what they want to do. That’s when they start flexing their muscle.”

How the actors and improvisers end up shredding the script just adds to the fun.

“One player may think it’s about a married couple on a jungle safari,” says Monteyne. “And the other one thinks he’s the president ordering pizza in the White House. You never know how it will play out.”

It’s also a one-night-only phenom; once it happens, the same show can never happen again. So there will never be an extended run of You Don’t Know the Half of It.

“That’s why we keep graduating to bigger venues.” says Monteyne, who’s delighted to return to the big stage of Le Petit for the June 5 show. “We did our fourth anniversary show there earlier this year. Now we’re back!”

‘You Don’t Know the Half of It’ plays Sunday, June 5, at Le Petit Theatre du Vieu Carre, 616 St. Peter St. Doors at 7pm, performance at 7:30. Tickets, available here, are $25.

Image via Facebook.

POSTED Jul 18, 2019

Creative Culture

August in New Orleans

August in New Orleans

New Orleans may be known as a party town, but locals work as hard here as they do in any city. Take a break from the routine with…....

Written by CREE MCCREE
POSTED Dec 14, 2018


Breaking Down the Best New Orleans & Louisiana Holiday Music

Breaking Down the Best New Orleans & Louisiana Holiday Music

Hey, the weather outside is kind of frightful! About as frightful as it gets down here anyways (also, note that next week temperatures will be back in the…....

Written by ADAM KARLIN
POSTED May 10, 2017

Creative Culture

Carnival Redux at the New Orleans Museum of Art

Carnival Redux at the New Orleans Museum of Art

On May 12 the New Orleans Museum of Art will fling open its doors for Masquerade: Late Night at NOMA, a costume party replete with float builders, mask-makers,…....

POSTED Dec 23, 2016


Some Holiday Music for the Weekend

Some Holiday Music for the Weekend

Happy holidays, y’all. We hope you find plenty to occupy you during this busy Christmas weekend, but if you find yourself having a small, quiet moment, or just…....

Written by ADAM KARLIN

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