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A warrior princess of comedy speaks on improvisation

December 15, 2005

&

It was an actual coronation, with a tiara,&

says Eve Smythe, recalling the day she was crowned a &

warrior princess of comedy&

and inducted into the popular women&

s improv troupe, the Hamazons.

Smythe has been part of the zany act for two years, doing shows like &

UFOs: Unidentified Foreign Objects,&

&

Ham Noir&

and &

Holiday Hooplah&

at venues such as the Craterian and Sambuca Martini Bar and Bistro in Medford, the Stardust Repertory Theatre in Grants Pass and the Black Swan and Southern Oregon University in Ashland.

She&

s also embarked on a few other adventures, such as writing and performing her one-woman show &

What Big Teeth You Have: Or Little Red Bites Back,&

which was critically acclaimed in Seattle. She wrote her second play, &

The Snow White Project&

for Oregon Stage Works in September, and then produced and performed it with a cast of 10 in October.

&

It was amazing to be on stage and hear the words I&

d written come out of peoples&

mouths and to hear the audience, people from ages 4 to 60, laughing,&

says Smythe. &

It&

s been a couple of months, and I can hardly believe it happened.&

Comparing scripted and improvisational acting, she says, &

When I originally became an actor it was all about scripted, and I love improv.... They both feed me in different ways. I like how with a script you can lean into the words, kind of craft it and hone it ... improv is all about being spontaneous &

it&

s disposable.&

Smythe also performs TheatreSports with the Second Saturday Players and teaches acting with an emphasis on improv at Oregon Stage Work&

s theater for youth, Acting Academy, which she started one year ago with Kate Sullivan.

— — ARTIST SKETCH

— — Name: Eve Smythe — Age: &

I&

m still 40&

— Seattle. — Training: San Francisco State University, degree in theater arts; — Bay Area TheaterSports. — Niche: Performer — Claim to Fame: Being coronated as a Hamazon warrior princess of comedy. — Inspiration: Bringing laughter to people

&

It amazes me that I can teach children who walk in kind of shy and withdrawn but leave opened up and able to stand up and speak up for themselves and share their ideas and glory in their mistakes. All the theater games make it fun ...&

Smythe knows exactly how her shy students feel on their first day: &

Improv was my biggest fear,&

Smythe recalls. &

The university then didn&

t have classes in it. I had a friend who was involved in improv and being out of college and feeling like &

145;now what?&

... I said let&

s go jump off this cliff!&

She studied and performed with Bay Area TheaterSports (BATS) and was hooked. But the fear&

s never completely gone.

&

Even with the Hamazons, there&

s always this moment back stage when I think &

145;Are we really doing this?&

because with improv if you&

re going to fail, you&

re going to fail big,&

she says, adding, &

but with improv you can always start over.&

Born and raised in Seattle, she moved to the Bay Area when she was 19, to Medford about 19 years later, and then to Talent about a year ago.

&

One thing that totally amazed me about Ashland was that I had no idea there was, outside of Shakespeare, such a thriving and supportive theater community here. I&

ve just felt so welcomed.&

One of the things she loves best about her art is the &

connecting between performer and audience.&

Asked when she knew what she wanted to do for a living, Smythe replies, &

I don&

t remember when I d

idn&

t.&

It&

s not that she grew up in an acting family or had any early training. She just always enjoyed performing, from spontaneously creating stories to music and acting them out for her own enjoyment to role playing story book characters. She recalls being &

very attracted to stories,&

listening to them and being an avid reader. There were no acting classes or drama clubs, yet in spite of high school jitters, she knew that in college she would major in theater arts.

Next month, Smythe will be performing in a two-person cast production of the &

Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe,&

directed by Bruce Hostetler and a fundraiser for the second grade class at Ashland&

s Waldorf school. For ticket information, call 301-6941.