Denver – featuring former DCH graduate and performer Collin Dahlgren – performs iO’s signature form, the Harold, creating dramatic scenes, games, and songs as part of a three-act play made up entirely on the spot. Debuting as an iO house team in 2013, they have performed at the Chicago Improv Festival, the LA Improv Festival, the Miami Improv Festival, and the Del Close Marathon. We recently spoke with Denver troupe member Sean Cooley.
What is it you enjoy most about performing within a specific format like the Harold?
Once you know Harold structure and the team syncs up on style of play, bending and breaking the rules becomes the fun part. While it may seem rigid on paper, the Harold really only requires that you honor patterns. So as long as you’re hitting patterns, there are so many layers you can add to the piece – game-focus, deep-seeded references, grounded and serious character work, extreme physicality – and still wind up with a great Harold.
How do you describe the Harold format to non-improv people?
As simply as possible: a three-act play made up on the spot with games, songs, and scenes that will call back themes and ideas throughout the show.
What are some common traits in troupes that you admire and look up to?
One-hundred percent commitment in scene work, which leads to playing on instinct and impulse. When a teacher says “follow the fun,” you’re only getting there if you’re fully investing in your scene partner and your environment. The teams that stand out like Dummy, Revolver, and The Reckoning all rely on that commitment to drive scenes that can sustain over long stretches and fuel an entire show.
What are you looking forward to in Dallas and the festival?
In Dallas, brisket and the tiniest chance of seeing Dirk Nowitzki. At the festival, looking forward to performing and teaching at the theater as well as sharing a bill with the legendary Improvised Shakespeare Company.
Cake or pie?
Pie, specifically blueberry cobbler with ice cream. This is not even a contest.
Jason Hensel is a graduate of the DCH improv training program. He manages the DCH blog and performs with .f.a.c.e., the ’95 Bulls, and Bound Together.