Erik Mortimer

Erik has enjoyed being part of the Edmonton improv scene since 2011 , performing music with Rapid Fire Theatre, Grindstone Theatre and Die-Nasty the live improvised soap opera. He’s a current member of Off-Book:The Improvised Musical. When he’s not operating sans score, he works as a composer, music director and side musician and educator. He loves switching it up and has been privilege to work with some of Edmonton’s finest artists and theatre companies including the Citadel Theatre, Theatre Network, Teatro la Quindicina, Fort Edmonton Park, Plain Janes and Alberta Opera. He is a Grant MacEwan music grad and a student of jazz music.

Favorites:

TV Shows: House of Cards, Sense 8, Treme, Game of Thrones

Movies: Love the epics, (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars). Love the animated features (Ratatouille, The Incredibles, Antz). Love the twisty ones (The Usual Suspects, Fight Club).

Music: I have a favorite music for every mood. I’m a huge fan of New Orleans music, (Dr. John, John Cleary, The Neville Brothers, Harry Connick Jr). I’m a big fan of movie music (James Horner, John Williams, Michael Giacchino, Hans Zimmer, Tomas Newman). Lots of Jazz etc. in my life too, (Hiromi, Brad Mehldau, Robert Glasper, Esperenza Spalding, James Taylor, Billy Joel, Elton John). Musicals too (West Side Story, Jason Robert Brown, Sondheim, Gershwin).

Podcasts: Cinematic Sound Radio, Freakenomics, Stuff you Should Know, WTF with Marc Maron.

Instruments: Love the piano, love the Drum kit. I think the most beautiful melodies are written for French horn or cello. Those are my favorite sounds.

Food: Yes it’s my favorite.

Words to live by: Hmm…That changes on the hour, but here’s one: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH RAPID FIRE?

I happened upon an Improviganza Theatresports show several years ago and I remember being blown away at the level of performance and was inspired to get involved.

WHAT ARE THE KEYS TO SCORING A SUCCESSFUL IMPROV SCENE?

Awareness to a scene is very important. As much as any other player on the stage the musician has to be aware of what the scene is about and help it. It’s not so much what you play. The same tense moment could be scored with a subtle drum beat, a single held string note, or silence. It could even be quirkily scored by a pop tune. They can all be good choices if they connect with the scene.

HOW IMPORTANT IS MUSIC TO AN IMPROV SCENE?

It certainly adds a lot to a scene. It creates a mood and can give authority to scenes but beyond that music is also a great communication tool for the on stage actors. Music can suggest pacing for a scene, or help establish a location it can highlight important moments.

WHAT ARE SOME THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU FACE AS THE HOUSE MUSICIAN?

A big challenge is trying to seamlessly combine the language of music into the language of improv. As a musician it’s an exercise in multi-tasking. You can’t spend too much time thinking about your musical idea that you are about to play because you might miss important information about the scene. That’s one thing.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT SHORT FORM VS. LONG FORM AND VICE VERSA?

As a musician long form can offer the challenge to build a score around a longer story. That offers the opportunity to build recurring themes and test you memory. Mine is not very good! Short form is all about energy switches. How quickly can you get on board with the scene?  Would you rather….easy, both?

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE IMPROV FORMATS/GAMES?

Space jump, Genre roller coaster. Musical improv. Anything that begs for an epic cinematic score. I ain’t no orchestra but its fun to pretend.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR IMPROV STYLE?

My training is in jazz piano so I think that sneaks its way into my playing pretty often.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT ON STAGE?

At the fringe festival in 2016 we did a New Orleans funeral show with Off Book the improvised musical. That stands out as one of my favorite shows I’ve ever played!

WHAT DO YOU DO OUTSIDE OF RFT?

Lots of different music, I’m a composer, music director and side musician and I really enjoy switching it up.

HOW DOES IMPROV COME IN HANDY IN YOUR DAY-TO-DAY LIFE?

So many ways. One is that it helps me to move on from ideas. Helps keep my brain moving forward.

DESCRIBE WORKING FOR RAPID FIRE IN A SINGLE SENTENCE:

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