Improv theater opens on South St.

December 5, 2014
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Along with plenty of galleries, orchestras and choruses, Jamaica Plain has added an improv theater to its repertoire.

Riot Theater, started by Boston Latin teacher and JP resident Joseph Gels, moved into a shared space with A Far Cry Chamber Orchestra at 146A South St. in August, after several months of brainstorming, Gels told the Gazette last week. Its first shows were performed Halloween weekend.

“The great thing about improv is how it fosters community. We want to become integrated with JP and the city at large,” said Gels, who also serves as artistic director. “It is great being able to bring awesome, hilarious shows to JP where there is such a great community that supports the arts.”

Currently, Riot is presenting five shows a week, which cover all styles of improve. There are competitive shows between two teams “battling it out,” Gels said, as well as to improvised plays and murder mysteries.

Riot is also hold a monthly collaboration with the storytelling group MassMouth “to perform improv inspired by amazing stories,” Gels said, and new shows based on card game “Magic: The Gathering.”

“And on top of all this we are going to be adding a stand-up show on Thursday nights starting in January. There is really a ton of variety,” Gels said.

Riot is also working toward offering improv classes and starting a high school league, as a mean to further build community, Gels said.

“We want to get to the point where we are drawing a lot of performers from the JP community,” he said.

Riot Theater is not a single improve troupe, Gels explained. Various troupes, teams and individuals perform there.

Aside from his new six-minute commute, Gels is happy the arrangement with A Far Cry is working out.

“They had a sign in the window saying they were looking to sublet the space. The agreement we have is that the theater has use of the space Thursday through Saturday nights while it is A Far Cry’s the rest of the time. It is really a great relationship since it makes having a space more affordable for both parties,” he said.

Riot’s full schedule, tickets and audition information are available at theriottheater.com.

Members of Riot Theater improvise along with MassMouth storytellers last month. (Courtesy Photo)

Members of Riot Theater improvise along with MassMouth storytellers last month. (Courtesy Photo)

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