The concept of Note To Self revolves around the characters’ inner monologues, delivered in real-time from improvisers right off-stage. Rumble discusses his vision for the show, which ends up being as poignant as often as it is funny.
WitOut: What types of moments do you hope Note To Self will explore that aren’t funny but simply profound/cathartic? How do you hope to package these moments in a way that suits the context of comedy theater?
Brian Rumble: It’s tough to say. For me, I’d be thrilled if the Note to Self world closes in a far different place than it opened. One of the key elements to this show is the fact that, in a persistent world, every choice has consequences. I want to see these characters struggle with these choices and come out changed on the other side. And these don’t have to be monumental changes. Just human ones, ones that build and maybe even fester over ten shows.
The comedy part of this show has been the least of my concerns because I think the concept is inherently funny and the cast are some of the funniest and smartest people I’ve ever met. The voyeurism in the show gives us a lot of tools to play with and even in the more profound or challenging scenes there’s the comic relief of the internal monologue. Hearing what someone wishes he could say against what they should or have to say is pretty great, even in some of the tougher moments.
WitOut: In an improvised show of this kind, lasting several nights, is there any concern about finding themes or beats and gravitating back towards them over the course of the run? Is the show entirely improvised?
Rumble: Events on the stage are entirely improvised. Each show starts with a “note to self” written by the audience to which the cast is not privy and the show builds from there. However, we do have a lot of structure created from this persistent world. So we have guidance on how characters will react to certain situations and how they’e expected to behave in different facets of their lives (work versus home, for example).
Finding the best themes is really just a matter of finding the most important ones. What do these characters care about most? Or, better yet, what do they want the most? Those themes will be so prevalent throughout the run of shows because we will hear the characters obsessing over them, even if they’re not able to act on them. The fun thing, of course, is that the entire cast can hear these wants and needs, too, and they can make achieving them as difficult as possible.
WitOut: Which of these performers are you particularly excited about directing, and why?
Rumble: I am so thrilled to be working with this entire group. Most of them are performers with whom I’d never worked before and I think all of them are among the best improvisers in the city. They’re a special group who came together instantly during auditions and they’ve not only brought this concept to life but they’ve been vital to helping me figure out all the moving pieces of what is, to be honest, a very challenging project. They’re the best co-directors I could have asked for and their enthusiasm for this whole thing has made the process so much easier.
For more on Note To Self, visit Figment Theater. Note To Self runs Thursday through Saturday @ 8:00pm and Sunday @ 3:00pm. Figment Theater is located at the Asian Arts Initiative, 1219 Vine St.