Five years of the players

By Jessica Kim Cohen
Herald Intern

Celebrating their fifth anniversary, the Hyde Park Community Players will perform their first improvisation and sketch-comedy show at 7 p.m. on May 30 at the Quadrangle Club, 1155 E. 57th St. Repeat performances will be announced throughout June, beginning with two performances at Augustana Lutheran Church, 5500 S. Woodlawn Ave., at 7 p.m. on June 13 and June 14.

Directed by Dan Friedrich, “Drones, Clones, and Phones: I Know What You Did Last Summer’s” central theme is technology. Scenes include “101 Uses for a Clone” and “When Robotic Prosthetics Go Bad.”

Friedrich describes Drones as “intentional improv,” a term he invented to describe a method of using improvisation within a framed context.

“I use that phrase to suggest that we’re doing a show that’s about something, but we’re using improvisation to do it,” Friedrich said. “I like to say I’ve written half of the show, and I will never write the other half.”

Brought together by Paul Baker and his daughter Rachel Baker in 2009, the local theater group has performed 18 shows to date, ranging in genre and theme.

“Every show we do is a little more of a show than the last one,” Susan Harris, a HPCP director and actor, said. “The more complicated shows we do, the more we pull in new people, and people that have talents that we need.”

Along with “Romeo and Juliet,” performed earlier this season, “Drones” represents a milestone for HPCP.

“Shakespeare is difficult to put on, and it’s seen as this iconic challenge. The question of doing improv is similar, as it has a kind of ephemeral creativity about it that’s a little scary,” Paul Baker said. “In some sense, when we’re saying that these shows are fifth anniversary productions, we’re saying that we’ve had them on our minds for a long time, and we’ve grown up enough to do them.”

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