By Noah Whittaker
GRAYLING – Do not be surprised if you hear laughter coming from the Artisans Village in downtown Grayling. It is just the sound of “Gits and Shiggles,” Grayling’s own improv troop. This group of improvisation enthusiasts has been the talk of the town as of late. Their shows have been packed and everyone who has seen them seems to want to talk about how funny the show was.
As a fan of local performance and a lover of all things improv I thought I would see what all the fuss was about. So, I got in touch with Chad Patterson, founder and leader of the improve troupe for an interview.
Crawford County Voice: Tell me a little about yourself. How long have you been performing? What else do you do?
Chad Patterson: I have been teaching theater in the area for over twenty years through my company Acting Up Theatre Company. I was asked to teach a kid’s class last summer at the AuSable Artisan Village and that started the relationship that lead to the Improv class.
CV: What made you want to start an improv group in Grayling?
CP: It’s always been something in the back of my mind, but I have to give credit to the AuSable Artisan Village and two wonderful women, Tina Foster and Kathy Ellison. They are constantly trying to do educational outreach to the community and when they asked me what I wanted to teach I said, “Improv for adults!” We did a seven-week, one night a week, course between January and March and I got six brave souls to sign up. There will be another beginner course available in January of 2019 as well.
CCV: What sort of people are in the troupe?
CP: The members are a very diverse group of people from all over our community. They range in age from 18-60’s. The current members are John Bawol, Abby Ertel, Mary Goodhall, Kevin Jansen, Roger Walsh and myself, Chad Patterson.
CVV: When and where do you practice?
CP: We practice a couple of times a month at the Artisan Village. They are awesome about letting us be their house Improv troupe.
CVV: What’s up with that name?
CP: The name of group was voted on by our last audience. “Gits and Shiggles” Improv troupe.
CVV: What are some topics you riff on?
CP: Oh my, we have hit on everything from fly fishing to nudist colonies to the MSU/U of M rivalry and Jim Harbaugh’s recruiting style. Most of it is set up like “Whose line is it anyway?”
CCV: Give us a little anecdote about a practice or performance.
CP: We have some rules about language, trying to keep it PG-13 but we have one wonderful lady who has stretched the boundaries of that. We had a bet going between the rest of us who would go the furthest language wise and we all picked her and sure enough… She said the granddaddy word of them all. We had a good time with her about it. It’s mostly an adult environment so it’s okay.
CCV: I know I have talked to many people around town who have seen your show and loved it. If others want to see Gits and Shiggles, where do you perform and when?
CP: Every second Thursday of the month at the AuSable Artisan Village. Our next show is May 10, from 7 p.m. -9 p.m. It’s free admission; however we do take up a collection at the end and give it to a local charity. Last time we raised over $300 for the Artisan Village. We will also be performing on Saturday, May 26 during the day as part of an arts festival at the Artisan Village.
CCV: Anything else you would like our readers to know?
CP: This group has been such a great thing for our community. Our first two shows have brought in crowds of over 90 people both times, bringing business to Paddle Hard and exposure to the Artisan Village. It should be a new kind of night out in our community, that provides audience participation, laughter and just a great time with friends. I would say come early, get a meal and bring your beverage over for the show. That is allowed.
CCV: Do you have any other classes or projects coming up?
CP: You can sign your child up for the summer class I mentioned by checking out the AuSable Artisan Village website. Also, I will be teaching an improv class for Kirtland this summer as well. For that call JoMarie at Kirtland Center for the Performing Arts 989-275-6777 for more details.
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