Category Archives: Behind The Scenes

Time’s Arrow: Behind the Scenes with Christine Riippi

Time’s Arrow CLOSES this weekend – see it Oct 20, 21 and 22 at 8PM at the Ballard Underground in Seattle. Tickets available at Brown Paper Tickets.

Christine Riippi first performed with Seattle Experimental Theater in the cast of 2013’s “Wedding Horror Stories”, followed by “The Wolf and the Witch” (2014/2015). She is now appearing in Time’s Arrow through October 22, and shared her thoughts below on the experience and the show through her mother’s eyes.

“My Mom Liked It!” by Christine Riippi

A couple months ago, I saw an audition posting for Seattle Experimental Theater’s newest show, “Time’s Arrow”. Along with the usual time, date, and contact information, there was a brief description of the show: “The spaces around us are full of history and potential; haunted by ghosts and gilded by dreams. Halls and streets and fields are rich with meaning defined by wonderful, terrible, forgettable, and sublime individual and collective experiences, yet we exist in them for only one moment at a time.” Well, that sounded incredibly interesting, intense, and slightly wacky. And like nothing I had ever seen on stage, especially in an improvised show. So I signed up and hoped to find out a little more about this mysterious “Time’s Arrow”.

Fast forward to Opening Night. My mom was to attend and I was explaining the premise of the show to her as we carpooled to the Ballard Underground. As a dedicated supporter of my improv habit, she has been to her share of shows where the performers do not memorize lines. Not every show has stuck the landing (“It was fun, but I liked ‘Wicked’ – remember ‘Wicked’? She flew!”), and now know to brief her before each show so she will know what to expect.


Christine Riippi (L) and Sarah Scheller (R) in SET’s world premiere production of “Time’s Arrow”.

“So it’s a time travel show?” she asked.
“Sort of,” I answered, “But more like time-hopping. There’s no time machine or anything like that.”
“And you stay in the same place?”
“Yeah, we show big moments and events that happen in the same space, but it’s at any point in time. They might overlap, but they might not. So you could see when the place was built, or when it burned down, or when the space aliens invaded in the year 3046.”
“And you make it up as you go?” (A classic question, familiar to any improviser.)

I do not know if my explanation was satisfactory or if it just confused her more. But this is improv; I have no idea what it is going to be “about” until we are in it. Luckily, the show went off without a hitch. The audience did not leave and nobody threw perishables at the performers, so I counted it as a win. When I found my mom after the show, I asked, “What’d you think?” Her answer delighted me: “That was one of the best shows I’ve seen!”

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. I am her daughter and she loves me and wouldn’t tell me anything other than good things. Maybe you’re right. But then she went on to compliment specific moments in the show and characters she liked, plus shared her ideas on what she thought might have happened in the location during the specific time periods we didn’t portray in the show. She even added, “I’m going to come back next weekend – I want to suggest the place!”

For the remainder of the weekend we enjoyed lovely audiences, including a group of fearless souls who braved Seattle’s Storm of the Century on Saturday night. Over the course of three days, we explored a parsonage in the Cayman Islands, the original tasting room at the Jack Daniel’s distillery in Tennessee, and saw several versions of Seattle’s own Salty’s on Alki. We created moments of adventure, sadness, romance, terror, and even a little whimsy, all occurring throughout the life of the location.

This show is a reminder that we are merely a brief chapter in the story of the places around us. We are just passing through. After this weekend, the show will be closed, but it will exist in time as a part of the story of Seattle Experimental Theater and the Ballard Underground. Even after weeks of rehearsals and several performances, “Time’s Arrow” is still like nothing I have ever seen or participated in onstage. The best way to understand what we’re creating and doing up there, is to come by and see it. It is wonderfully original, not to mention entertaining. But don’t take my word for it. Just ask my mom. She’ll be there on Saturday night.


Time’s Arrow: Behind the Scenes with Tony Beeman

Tony Beeman is a SET veteran (The Doctor, Where No Man Has Gone Before) who rejoins us in the cast of Time’s Arrow. Below, he shares his thoughts on being a part of this truly unique world premiere production.

Time’s Arrow runs October 13 – 22 at the Ballard Underground – 6 performances only. Get tickets now at today!

I grew up in East Tennessee, along the Clinch River, where the earth would give up a lot of arrowheads each spring. A friend of the family gave me one of those arrowheads: a quartz arrowhead from the banks of the river, crafted by unknown tribes which had populated the area long before the Shawnee or Cherokee. I remember holding the chipped quartz in my ten-year-old hand and imagining the men and women who must have stood exactly where I was standing all those years ago. How they stood, what they wore, what they were doing. Who they loved. How they lived and how they died.

Time’s Arrow, created by director Elizabeth Brammer, and produced by Seattle Experimental Theater, is a show about an arrow of another sort. It opens this Thursday, and of the hundred-some shows I’ve performed in, it’s already among my favorites. The show explores a fixed place on Earth, while jumping through time. In 1972, a teenager storms out of the dining room, and collapses into a chair that stands where we just watched a 1790’s settler bury her own daughter. In 2173, our descendants argue water as dust sweeps across the landscape. In 1870, two conferderate deserters plan a doomed heist as they hide away in the settler’s now-abandoned shack.

Tony Beeman and Sarah Scheller at tech rehearsal for "Time's Arrow".

Tony Beeman and Sarah Scheller at tech rehearsal for “Time’s Arrow”.

We are surrounded by the ghosts of what has been and what will be. And while the characters are unable to break out of that arrow’s path, the audience escapes that velocity, and witnesses the past, present and future simultanously. It’s a sometimes funny, sometimes sad love song to places, with the dusty smell of old bookstores, the lit spark of future possibilities, and the comfortable air of a present that keeps slipping away. We’ve had a great time rehearsing the show, and are incredibly excited to invite an audience to participate in the journey!

Time’s Arrow opens Thursday, October 13th, and plays for two weeks on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at the Ballard Underground. Advance tickets available at Brown Paper Tickets.


#TheJournal: Behind the Scenes with Daryl Ducharme

13522739_10101100713937289_6842638392664971713_oThis is OPENING WEEKEND for the return of The Journal, a romantic improvised comedy inspired by the work of Nicholas Sparks. Continues Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through July 23 (8PM) at the Ballard Underground. Tickets $18 online or $20 at the door.

Daryl Ducharme is one of the three returning members of the cast of The Journal (2016). His SET debut was with the cast of “Wedding Horror Stories” in 2013. Along with Wayne (who shared his perspective in yesterday’s blog) we asked Daryl if he’d be willing to share his thoughts on returning to The Journal; here is his reply in his own words.

From Daryl:

Tonight is opening night of The Journal and I am nervous. I’m not nervous in an “Oh, my god I can’t go out there” sort of way but rather in an “I love this show so much, I hope the audience shares the love with me” way. What’s there to love about The Journal? Please, allow me to let you in on my love of it.

First, there is the nostalgia. In 2012, when The Journal first came out, I had never been a part of an improv show before. This was the first time I had ever been cast in a show. I remember being nervous about playing with a cast that already worked so well together and that I thought were clearly better than I. By the end of the run, however, I learned how easy it is to play with them all and that run still has one of my favorite improv memories.

Another big reason I love this show is that I am a romantic at heart. While I do love a good big budget summer blockbuster, my favorite movie is a romance by Baz Luhrman called Strictly Ballroom. Before that my favorite movie was The Cutting Edge starring DB Sweeney and Moira Kelly. These romances are vastly different than Nicholas Sparks romances, which I actually find quite hard to watch. Sure, I might cry at a Sparks flick but life has the silliness of a good romantic comedy. That is exactly why I love making fun of the “taking ourselves too seriously” tropes of Nicholas Sparks while still getting to see a good romance blossom. The Journal consistently melts my heart. I’m sure it will melt yours.

Finally, I love this show because of the people. SET is great people and the people they cast are of a certain breed. They make me laugh. They make me cry. They get me excited to improvise a whole new romance at every rehearsal. I hope that the audience will enjoy The Journal as much as I do and that they leave with more love in their hearts. That’s the way I’ve been leaving rehearsals and I believe the performances will only be better.


Aditya Sriyam (L) and Daryl Ducharme (R) play the men of Swan Beach sharing a drink in dress rehearsal for “The Journal” (2016)

Join Us For “The Journal”

Intrigued? The Journal opened on July 14 and gave the audience a dramatic romance between a juggler and a woman who had a dark secret: cheating at Pokemon Go.

We continue tonight through July 23 at the Ballard Underground in Seattle. Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8PM. Tickets available for $18 ($14 for groups of 4 or more) online at OR for $20 each at the door.

#TheJournal: Behind the Scenes with Wayne Pishue

13522739_10101100713937289_6842638392664971713_oTonight is OPENING NIGHT for the return of The Journal, a romantic improvised comedy inspired by the work of Nicholas Sparks. July 14 – 23 (8PM) at the Ballard Underground. Tickets $18 online or $20 at the door.

Wayne Pishue is one of the three returning members of the cast of The Journal (2016). He has also been with SET as a performer since the very beginning, as one of the original cast members of Where No Man Has Gone Before.

We asked Wayne if he’d be willing to share his thoughts on returning to The Journal; here is his reply in his own words.

From Wayne:

After 3 weeks of rehearsals, 4 days in a row of late night tech rehearsals, and not seeing my wife and dog, you might wonder what keeps me coming back – and I would answer, this show. This show is something magical. Taking what is literally some of the worst, most trite and manipulative work in literary history and turning it on its ear and into a touching show with moments of brilliant comedy and genuine tears.

When I heard that we were remounting this show I was so excited. I have so much fun being silly and scary in other SET shows, but this show really lets the cast stretch their dramatic legs. It’s not often that I get to play a grieving widower, and a supportive not-played-for-laughs gay father, and a Man with a high school grudge out for revenge in the same run. This show is special in that way. We see these fully fleshed out 3-Dimensional characters live their lives and deal with real things in real ways. There won’t be a lot of aliens or mysticism in the show, but it is just as, if not more engaging that shows that feature those things. I just love the cast and I love the concept and I am so happy to be a part of this show!


PRESS PHOTO for THE JOURNAL (2016): The residents of Swan Beach take issue with one of their own. L to R: Wayne Pishue, Daryl Ducharme, Marc Guy.

Intrigued? The Journal opens tonight and runs for 6 performances at the Ballard Underground in Seattle. Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8PM July 14 – 23. Tickets available for $18 ($14 for groups of 4 or more) online at OR for $20 each at the door.

Improvised Trek on Evening Magazine

13391676_1060263530678174_8058947819730547811_o (1)On Wednesday, June 8, Saint Bryan from King 5’s Evening Magazine joined us on the bridge of our Starship Enterprise to take a behind-the-scenes look at the 5-year Seattle perennial hit Where No Man Has Gone Before, an improvised parody of the original Star Trek Series. Thanks for the great time, Evening Magazine!

A writeup is available on the King 5 website here (video requires Flash)