Borealis was a House Team that performed in repertory at The Peoples Improv Theater from 2010 to 2014. They held a primetime Friday-night slot at the theatre (alongside Tuscarora Fire Company Picnic and later C. Monster), and during this run were of the most influential, highly-praised teams at the theatre.
Borealis performed their first show at The PIT on January 27th, 2010. Their last show came on January 17, 2014. In 2011, they were nominated at the INNYs for both Most Innovative Show or Group and Best Video Promo.
Borealis played a free-flowing, organic brand of improv. It confused some audience members and impressed a lot more. Instead of soliciting a verbal suggestion, the team used music to inspire a sound and movement organic opening. The tech would scroll through a series of randomly generated songs, and an audience member was selected to choose one that would then serve as a suggestion. Their opening consisted of a full-ensemble "Follow the Follower" which generated a silent series of "scene-lets" inspired by the suggestion-song. Portrayed through only pantomime, each scene-let would bleed into another after only a few moments, and after the team felt they had collected enough material, one improviser would initiate the beginning of their formal set by beginning to speak within the current (and thereby final) scene-let. The wordless vignettes would be revisited and fleshed out later.
The team also frequently made use of transformation edits during their shows. Instead of sweep editing, team members would take an element of a scene (like a character's posture, dialogue, or action) and somehow physically transform and mold it into the beginning of a new scene. The team was known for "zooming into" things (e.g. people's minds) and beginning new scenes from these abstract transitions.
Their sets consisted of far more group scenes than most teams normally attempt. The team was known for great give-and-take, and they prided themselves on not having any stand-out, "star-power" improvisers, but a strong, cohesive ensemble instead.
Shows were callback-heavy and very theatrical. It was quite rare for characters, games, or themes to appear in only one scene.
Memorable show moments
- Oscar Montoya transforming a Lamaze class scene (mothers bobbing their children) into a room full of jugglers, then calling that back later in the show by being a baby juggler.
- Keith Huang zooming into a character's tear drops, blowing them up into a giant thunderstorm, and then finding himself on a plane undergoing turbulence inside that thunderstorm.
- Their final show was probably the biggest that has ever been held in the PIT Underground. It was an over-crowded, fire code-violating mess, with audience members sitting behind and on top of the bar. A ton of folks were turned away because it was too full. (See photos here.)
- Jamie Cummings
- Leslie Marie Collins
- Lorraine Cink
- Jonathan Desley
- Marshall York
- Keith Huang
- Oscar Montoya