After almost half a year of preparation, a Richmond comedy troupe has begun joking around downtown.
The Richmond Comedy Coalition is hosting a grand opening this weekend at its 1,700-square-foot theater at 8 W. Broad St. The improv troupe was founded in 2009 and has hosted shows a few times each month at different spots throughout the city, but this is its first permanent venue.
“It’s sort of surreal to think about the fact we’re opening now,” managing director Matt Newman said. “People will actually be paying money to see us in our own space. It’s kind of sinking in.”The coalition moved into its 50-person-capacity theater in March. The building was formerly an art studio, and the troupe funded renovations with $27,000 it raised online. After almost five months of work, it will debut the theater on time – more or less.
“All things considered, a month’s delay isn’t bad,” creative director David Pijor said.
The group plans to host three or four shows a week. It also offers improv classes for aspiring performers. The courses, which are based on experience levels, run for eight weeks and cost $180. The lessons have also served as a talent pipeline for the coalition, which added several of its former students and doubled the size of its all-volunteer troupe in April.
Getting the word out about the theater is group’s next step. Advertising for the troupe is different now because it will be pushing one location, as opposed to several isolated, one-off events, Newman said.
The theater had a soft opening last weekend, featuring a show based on local Craigslist ads. The group will draw inspiration from an audience member’s Facebook account for a grand opening sketch show Friday.
The opening show drew about 40 attendees, and postings gave rise to characters such as Buff: a fitness instructor from the future on a Terminator-style mission to eliminate all other personal trainers.
Admission price varies by event, ranging from free and “pay what you can” gigs to $5 and $10 shows. House teams will put on most performances, but the group is also planning to bring in neighboring troupes from time to time.
“We’ve made a lot of friends who are out of state that are psyched,” Pijor said.
Congrats to David Pijor and the entire crew! Great talent now has a space to match.
Congratulations. Now reward that talent by paying your actors!