If you've been to one of our shows, you know we play around a lot with lights and sound. None of that would be possible without the expertise of Gavin Stark, our unofficial Technical Director and guru of all things digital. Gavin's the reason we have amazing videos of our shows and an incredible app that tracks players, games and points from the stage in our Whose Line St. Pete show. Here's a few of his thoughts about his experience at Unscripted since last November.
How did you get started doing improv? What's your story?
I had been thinking of something like an improv or stand-up class for some time. I spend my days as a software engineer and teacher, which totally engages my logical brain. While there are many aspects of software that are creative, I was looking for something to break out of my comfort zone and be creative in a different way. My first date with my girlfriend was just before her very first improv class, so after seeing how much fun she was having I had to sign up. I’ve completed the training program at American Stage, and I’m currently enjoying the UT-1 class at Unscripted Theatre.
What have you been involved with at Unscripted? What's your favorite thing so far?
The team I play with, Previously On, performs in the Improv Showcase & Comedy Cagematch. We swept eight wins in a row in Cagematch last season! I’m also a member of the Unscripted Players that perform in Whose Line St. Pete and I work with the tech booth both, helping with the technology as well as running lights and sound during shows.
My favorite things so far is the amazing feeling I have performing on stage with friends. I also enjoy seeing what the other great teams while I improvise the lights and sound from the tech booth.
What's your personal approach to improv?
The hardest challenge I’ve had with improv is not judging my performance. When I first started out I used to spend the entire post-show car ride critiquing every word that fell out of my mouth. Now I try to not judge my performance, to step into a scene without running through a million options in my head, and trusting both myself and my scene partner to create something together. I also try to embrace the “bring a brick, not a house” idea and concentrate on just having fun!
If you had to choose one memory about doing improv that sticks out in your mind, what would it be?
A special moment was the first time Previously On performed at Unscripted. Our form is an improvised TV Show and is more narrative than anything I'd ever done. We only rehearsed once before that first show and I was terrified. Stepping onto that stage and knowing that I could completely trust my team to have my back and support me was the most amazing feeling. After I left the stage my thought was “I cannot wait to do THAT again.”
What sort of advice would you have for a new person who wants to be part of the Unscripted community?
Get on stage! Of everything that I’ve learned in class nothing compares to the experience of being on stage. Unscripted offers so many ways to perform in any capacity you like. Come be a guest player in the Whose Line show! Practicing short form has been a great way for me to overcome some of my fears in my long form work. Build a team with your friends, take the stage, and have fun. Also consider volunteering. There are many opportunities at the theater and you get the benefit of seeing a lot of great shows along the way.
What do you hope for the future of the theater and the St. Pete improv scene?
I’m excited to see more audiences of first timers enjoying shows and becoming fans of long form improv! I also love that teams and players from many theaters across the entire state come play at Unscripted. I’m looking forward to more cooperation and opportunities for us to perform together.
A million thanks to Nicholas Riggs and Hannah Prince for creating a warm, welcoming, and supportive space for us to play. We are lucky to have you!
Shucks. You can see Gavin perform Friday nights with his team Previously On in the Improv Showcase & Comedy Cagematch. You can also catch him Saturdays in Whose Line St. Pete as part of the Unscripted Players, or up in the tech booth improvising lights and sound throughout the season.