Red Dirt Improv pays tribute to an iconic playwright by throwing away scripts, just winging it 

fs might greet Saturday's "Music, Mayhem and Mamet," Red Dirt Improv's plan to improv a two-act play in "Mamet speak," with amused curiosity or purist's revulsion. Either way, it takes a valiant performer to emulate a Tony Award-worthy script based only on suggestions from a crowd, which will only be made worse if said suggestions are as salty as the source material.

According to improv actress Raychel Winstead, the troupe is ready for the worst, since the suggestions couldn't get any more shocking than what they've fielded in the past.

"You have to take what the audience gives you, no matter what," she said. "Once, we were doing a show with 300 people at Meacham Auditorium (in Norman), and we did a game where we asked for a suggestion for the worst telethon ever. The audience came up with kiddie porn, and we went, 'Ooh "¦'"

"We changed it to 'porn made for kids,' which I guess is a little better," actor Christopher Curtis said.

"That's what we call taking a suggestion laterally," the troupe's Clint Vrazel said with a smirk.

Being able to twist the meaning of words to fit what one needs them to mean is at the heart of Mamet dialogue, which is one reason why Vrazel said it's material ripe for improv. Plus, he said the proliferation of improvised television series such as "Reno 911!" means the show's concept won't be completely foreign to audiences.

"Mamet is something that we can only do now because the audience is educated about what we do. We no longer have to say, 'We're like 'Whose Line Is It Anyway,'" Vrazel said. "David Mamet is known for his really particular cadence of writing that is a fast-paced, back-and-forth dialogue that is really fun to see onstage. To see people make it up onstage makes it feel real, so his style of writing works really well in an improv setting."

Red Dirt members have been mainlining Mamet in preparation for the performance, including repeated viewings of "Glengarry Glen Ross" and "State and Main." Curtis said that the Mamet project is only possible because the troupe is very familiar with each other and know how to keep the action onstage clipping along.

"We don't really get out of sync. We've been doing this with the same group of people for years," he said. "We don't get out of sync because we've really jelled as a group, though we will still surprise each other onstage."

Because topics and language will be meant more for an adult crowd, the Mamet show will be reserved for the 9 p.m. performance. The troupe will begin by taking crowd suggestions and then following the scenario to a logical stopping point, 20 to 25 minutes into the performance. The performers will then take a break, discuss where they left off and what to do with the second act.

Winstead added that, no matter what you do onstage, you have to commit fully to it.

Red Dirt Improv's 7 p.m. performance will feature more classic improv bits, including short games and songs based on suggestions and "What's the Score?" by the troupe's resident musical improviser, Stephanie Bidelspach. Transitioning from the high-energy games to the extended "plotless" improv will be tricky, Vrazel said.

"The real challenge will be slowing down," he said. "The shorter games are all about the who, what, where, but plotless improv is something we've been working on a lot lately."

"That's what makes will make it so realistic," Winstead said.

Red Dirt Improv stages at 7 and 9 p.m. Saturday at Individual Artists of Oklahoma, 706 W. Sheridan. 

"?Charles Martin

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