Beckwith to host improv night

DOWAGIAC — “Yes, and …”

It’s a phrase that co-directors of a local improv comedy group Ryan Murray, 45, and James Huffman, 27, are very familiar with as “yes, and…” is one of the basic tenets of improv comedy, a signal that one is willing to go with anything.

“The number rule of improv is ‘yes, and,’” Murray said.

The two tossed the phrase around Monday night as they prepared for their upcoming performance.

Beckwith Theatre, 100 New York Ave. Dowagiac, will be hosting its fourth annual improv night titled “Yet Another Night of Improv: It’s Complicated” on Friday. An all-ages, child-friendly performance will be hosted at 7 p.m., while an adult, mature audiences-only performance will be held at 9 p.m. There is no set admission cost, though organizers suggest a donation of at least $5. A cash bar will be available at the performances.

“There’s no tickets on sale. There’s no reservations. You just show up,” Murray said. “But we’ve been lucky in the past and have always been very full.”

Improv, short for improvisational theater, is a form of unscripted comedy that relies on games, frameworks and occasionally audience participation, to create an entirely unique set.

“We don’t just go up on stage and say anything,” Murray said. “There are games, and we practice. It’s a lot of fun.”

More than just being a fun form of comedy, Huffman said that Improv is somewhat unique in southwest Michigan, which is what draws people to the annual performance.

“It’s funny, and it’s different from anything else the Beckwith has going on,” Huffman said. “They have their slate of shows, so it’s not something they usually do. … [The improv night] was such a huge hit the first year, and it has only grown exponentially since. People clearly want to see this in this area.”

Both active participators with the Beckwith Theatre, Huffman and Murray came up with the idea to host their first improv night as a way to generate some income for the theater during the off season, Murray said.

“We still have to pay for the heating and electricity and things in the winter, some people don’t realize that,” he said. “That gets expensive, and we wanted to give back.”

Huffman added that the improv night gives them a chance to practice the form of comedy that the duo loves to do.

“We really enjoy doing it, and we’ve been really successful doing it,” Murray said.

Both Murray and Huffman said they hoped people would come out to performance and enjoy themselves.

“I don’t think you will regret showing up,” Murray said. “There will be something for everyone to enjoy.”

“It’s funny, and it’s different from anything else the Beckwith has going on,” Huffman said. “They have their slate of shows, so it’s not something they usually do. … [The improv night] was such a huge hit the first year, and it has only grown exponentially since. People clearly want to see this in this area.”

Both active participators with the Beckwith Theatre, Huffman and Murray came up with the idea to host their first improv night as a way to generate some income for the theater during the off season, Murray said.

“We still have to pay for the heating and electricity and things in the winter, some people don’t realize that,” he said. “That gets expensive, and we wanted to give back.”

Huffman added that the improv night gives them a chance to practice the form of comedy that the duo loves to do.

“We really enjoy doing it, and we’ve been really successful doing it,” Murray said.

Both Murray and Huffman said they hoped people would come out to performance and enjoy themselves.

“I don’t think you will regret showing up,” Murray said. “There will be something for everyone to enjoy.”

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