Zombie improv emerges in Walnut Creek

by Kris Stewart,
Managing Editor

Fear the walking dead — or spend an evening with them — when Synergy Theater presents their Halloween event, Z is for Zombie: An Improvised Zombie Apocalypse at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek.

“What makes this play special is that we’re not just improvising in the style of a zombie apocalypse movie, spoofing the genre but there’s actually a really fun game going on during the show,” said Kenn Adams, artistic director for Synergy Theater.

Each actor is given their character at the top of the show through audience participation. They are also given a card. On that card there will be either a letter Z for zombie, a blank which means the character is a human or a DK card for the mythical zombie killer, the only one that can stop the zombies.

“The whole fun is that as we’re improvising the show nobody knows what’s on those cards,” said Adams.

Nobody knows who is a zombie. As the audience becomes familiar with the characters and starts to choose their favorites the story unfolds to reveal the zombies among the living.

[mks_pullquote align=”left” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#81d742″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]”The audience has a strong hand in determining what happens next in the script.” – Kenn Adams[/mks_pullquote]

Last year’s Z is for Zombie event was held in their performance space in Lafayette and due to the high turn out they decided to move this year’s Halloween event to a larger space.

While the show strives for a clean family friendly atmosphere, Adams suggests that small children not attend the show due to the unpredictability of the content.

“We don’t traditionally use vulgarity or anything really inappropriate like that but it’s improvisation and sometimes a cuss word will slip out so we don’t recommend it for small children,” Adams explained.

Synergy Theater is nestled in Lafayette and in its third year of operation focuses solely on improv performance.

The theater offers events every third weekend of the month. Typically on that Thursday there is an open improv jam where the Synergy theater crew joins people from other companies to teach improv games, perform and have fun with the community.

Friday is the “Spontaneous Combustion” event where someone gives a personal anecdote about their life and the cast improvises a comedy set based on those stories.

Saturdays are set aside for full-length improvised plays that come in a variety of different forms.

A popular improvised play Synergy Theater performs is first draft, a two act improvised play where the host continuously freezes the action during the play to get suggestions from the audience throughout the performance.

“The audience has a strong hand in determining what happens next in the script,” said Adams.

Each full-length play could contain between 6 to 8 actors. There are a total of 9 within the company.

Z for Zombie will be performed at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek on Friday, Oct. 16 at 8:15pm and Saturday Oct. 17 at 8:15pm. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online at lesherartscenter.org.