On Wednesday night I had the pleasure of seeing two fresh improvisation acts – Little Miss Codependent and Moral Fixation – at Theatre 99. As someone personally terrified of any kind of performance art, I’ve always marveled at those with a gift for theatrics; unfortunately, this caused a little bit of a barrier and disconnect between the art and artists of the theater and myself. At Theatre 99, however, I thought that the theater design and the the performers themselves created an overall atmosphere of an exciting and almost gritty accessibility that I’d never experienced in a theater setting before. Everything from the performers’ casual attire to their encouragement of audience participation made me feel comfortable, relaxed, and connected with their hilarious skits. I even smiled and congratulated Brandy on a great performance on my way out – something I could never dream of doing at a Broadway show or a performance of an equally flashy magnitude. The show was enjoyable because it was much more than funny; it was down to earth and effortless.
Shortly before the show, I noticed that almost every seat in the theater was occupied and by quite a diverse audience. I went to their website after the show, and I discovered that Theatre 99 does a great job of incorporating hip technological advancements (specifically Facebook) to reach out and advertise to a broad audience. Their page is updated often with upcoming events and even used interactively for quirky “ticket giveaways” to encourage a steady return audience base. As a critique, I would like to see even further outreach around Charleston so that they can continue to attract new, perhaps unsuspecting fans like myself; after the show, I came across too many people who had never heard of Theatre 99 or thought it was synonymous with Pure Theatre on King. For such a small organization, though, I think Theatre 99 is doing a great job of navigating through the rapid technological advances that are changing the arts scene around the world. If you’re considering watching re-runs of Whose Line Is It Anyway? on YouTube or just looking for a good laugh, I’d highly suggest an evening at Theater 99 instead.