An unconventional new Seattle troupe takes improv to a new level

Vanessa McGrady

An audience member suggests a title ― let's say,"Processed Cheese" ― and bam! Two actors have hit thestreets, cameraperson in tow, improvising and filming a scene. Twomore actors will take snippets of a story from another audiencemember and literally run with it. A third pair solicits a prop― whatever's handy ― and incorporates it into theirscene. They too will head outside and begin making a story. Withinfive minutes, a runner has returned with a tape of the scene by thefirst actors, music begins, and another adrenaline-fueled episodeof the Seattle Neutrino Project begins.

In 2003, artistic director Justin Sund handpicked 20 ofSeattle's best improvisers and filmmakers to join Neutrino, apioneering form of filmmaking on the fly for live audiences. Hefocused on finding people who are not only talented but also"inherently fun to look at." He calls the show an "organizationaltempest" because of the multitude of things that can go wrong withlive theater and technical wizardry. But that element of winging itis part of the fun: The audience becomes invested in the storiescoming to a satisfying closure.

"There are unmined gems that'll come out of people's mouths,"says ensemble member Órla McGovern. "People aren't sure whatthey're going to get, which is a huge joy."

INFO: The Seattle Neutrino Project will perform Mar 4-5 atRyan Stiles' Upfront Theatre ($10; 1208 Bay St., Bellingham, WA;360/733-8855). Visit www.seattleneutrino.comfor a schedule.

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