NEPA Scene Staff

TV actors improvise original audio play ‘A Knock on the Door’ at Scranton Fringe Fest Oct. 2-4

TV actors improvise original audio play ‘A Knock on the Door’ at Scranton Fringe Fest Oct. 2-4
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From a press release:

The creative team behind the iTunes podcast Geste is bringing an exciting new experience to the Scranton Fringe Festival in October. “A Knock on the Door” is an improvised audio drama in which audience suggestions guide three actors and one sound effects artist to create a new play for each performance.

Conceived by actor/writer Tara Gadomski, who was born in Scranton and grew up in Wayne County, “A Knock on the Door” is a show unlike any other. Though there are thousands of improvisational theater troupes in the U.S., and dozens of dramatic podcasts on the Internet, Gadomski found that no one was combining the two, so she wrangled collaborators: director Laura Hooper, sound designer Robert A. K. Gonyo, and actors Nick Fondulis and Caitlin Johnston. The team has been honing their group improv skills in New York City and are heading to the Electric City for the Fringe weekend with three unique shows at Coalwork on Spruce Street in downtown Scranton. Each show will be created and performed live and also recorded for broadcast at a later date on iTunes.

All of the artists involved in the show have significant film, stage, and television experience. Tara Gadomski has had roles on “Orange is the New Black,” “The Blacklist,” and “Blue Bloods.” Johnston played a recurring role on Cinemax’s “The Knick,” and fans of the NBC comedy “30 Rock” will recognize Nick Fondulis as the character Jayden Michael Tyler. His extensive credits on the small screen also include “Bent,” “Mercy,” “Kings,” “As the World Turns,” and “Losing It with John Stamos.”

But live audio drama still holds a special draw for these actors, as Johnston says, “It’s a challenge for the actors; we want to be fully present in the play we’re creating for our live audience, but we also need to keep in mind the audience who will listen to the recording days or years later. It’s what a lot of the greats did in the golden age of radio (Fanny Brice, Orson Welles, Helen Hayes). There’s a reason those performances have stood the test of time and still fascinate audiences today. It’s incredibly exciting to work in this medium.”

At each performance, the audience will help the actors create the play through verbal suggestions. They may even be asked to temporarily donate small props for the show! But never fear, participation is completely voluntary.

“That’s the beauty of this,” says Hooper. “Like in any improv show, you can fully participate by throwing in ideas for the actors, or you can choose to just watch and enjoy. But we take the sensory experience even further. At our shows, you can also sit back, close your eyes, and be transported into a new world being created, right there, by words and sound effects.”

But “A Knock on the Door” is more than just entertainment, says Gadomski, who sees it as a social experiment too. “I am honored to debut ‘A Knock on the Door’ in Scranton, and I believe this is just the beginning. I’m curious to see how audiences in different cities, states, and even countries react and how the local flavor will influence what type of show is created. When, as I hope, ‘A Knock on the Door’ tours around the world, I’ll always remember that, like so many great inventions, it all started in the Electric City.”

The unique performances at Coalwork (544 Spruce St., Scranton) will be held on Friday, Oct. 2 at 9 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 3 at 2 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 4 at 4:30 p.m. Tickets are available online via TicketLeap, and more details can be found on the Facebook event pages.