Success in the tricky field of improv comes down to three key elements - presence, timing and a passion to learn - according to Paducah Improv Producer Chuck Tate.
The group held its third annual round of auditions Sunday night at the Market House Studio Theater. Eight potential new members went through several improv and team-building games over two hours. The auditions have drawn about 70 residents from Paducah, surrounding counties and as far as Murray and Union City, Tenn., in its three years, he said.
"It's a great opportunity for people to see and get exposed to what we do because at times it can be intimidating to newcomers," Tate said.
Auditions include listening and relationship style games led by current members of Paducah Improv. Tate said the procedures start with the basics and beginners with no performance or comedy experience are encouraged to attend.
He emphasized the two-fold benefit in teaching the craft to a new group of potential performers and for the group to find new and fresh talent. The demand for the ensemble to perform at workshops and gigs across the region continues to increase.
"It allows us to replace members who are leaving for larger markets, which is what we want for our people," he said. "We want people who have the wow factor and will put work into getting better."
Those who are selected will be given a six-month improvisation comedy training course with a textbook and help from current members of the group. Tate said there were several people with potential at the audition. The entire group will watch the tapped auditions and discuss potential members during rehearsal Wednesday.
After six months, individuals who show promise in their performance techniques will join one of the Paducah Improv teams. Tate emphasized that those not selected still had a learning and resume-building experience for free.
City Commissioner Richard Abraham, who has been doing improv at home with his two daughters for years, was one of those hoping to earn a spot in the course.
"That troupe is just getting bigger and better," he said. "Even if they don't pick me, I had a fun time and will be at their next performance."
Abraham, a leader in the Green Room program, which taught improvisation to young people through the Family Court system, said it's impossible to not have fun on stage or in the audience during performance.
"It makes you think on your feet and get creative because you can't say no, you just have to go with it," he said.
Tate said the group might hold another audition to reach additional people.
"We want to keep growing, and we want people to know to just relax and have fun," he said. "Improv makes you a better employee and just a better overall person in life."
Paducah Improv performs on the last Saturday of each month. The next performance is set for 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday at the Market House Black Box Theater. Tickets are $5 at the door.
Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.