Joel has been improvising with Rapid Fire Theatre since 2008, and has performed with all of RFT’s world-class troupes, including Scratch, Harold of Galactus, dot dot dot, Like Father Like Son, Olymprov, and Off Book! The Musical. In addition, he has performed with a host of international improv groups including School of Night (London), The Sufferettes (Toronto) Sunday Service and Hip.Bang! (Vancouver), Outside Joke and Crumbs (Winnipeg), Loose Moose, Dirty Laundry, and the Improv Guild (Calgary), The Boys (Chicago), Dad’s Garage (Atlanta), 4Track and Doppelganger (New York City),The Most Beautiful People in the World (Oslo), and Picnic (Bogota).

@jacrichton

Joel Crichton

Joel has worked as a playwright, musician, actor, and director across Canada, New Zealand, Europe, and International Waters. He has done projects with Citadel Theatre, Concrete Theatre, Sage Theatre, Ignition Theatre, Surreal SoReal Theatre, Fort Edmonton Park, and the University of Alberta, to name a few. He has received three Sterling Award nominations for his work.

Joel is currently Playwright-in-Residence at Workshop West Theatre, where he is developing his new play-with-music, Psyche. His TYA play, The Antyssey (co-written with Richard Lee Hsi) is in development with Concrete Theatre.

Pins On A Map, his debut album as a singer/songwriter, is available on iTunes and CDBaby.

He can be seen in several independent short films, as well as the feature-length musical Year After Year, releasing in 2014.

Joel holds a Certificate in Acting from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts (Hollywood), a Diploma in Acting from Red Deer College, and a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Acting from the University of Alberta.

He has been improvising with Rapid Fire Theatre since 2008, and has performed with all of RFT’s world-class troupes, including Scratch, Harold of Galactus, dot dot dot, Like Father Like Son, Olymprov, and Off Book! The Musical.

FAVOURITES

TV Shows: LOST. ER. Game of Thrones. Mad Men. Sherlock.

Movies: Raiders of the Lost Ark. Lost in Translation. A Goofy Movie.

Actors: Martin Freeman, Sean Bean, George Clooney, Tatiana Maslany, Cate Blanchett

Video Games: Majora’s Mask, Starcraft II, and I’m cheating the question but Game of Thrones: The Board Game.

Authors: David Mitchell, Haruki Murakami, Jose Saramago, Robert Johnson

Music:  Peter Gabriel, The Beatles, Daft Punk, Taylor Swift, Jack Johnson.

Websites: I’m so stumped by this question I don’t even know how to move on. Facebook?

Food: Breakfast. Pizza, like a child. But also sushi, like a grown-up.

Words to live by: You want to know how to paint a perfect painting? It’s easy. Make yourself perfect and then just paint naturally. – from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig

HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH RAPID FIRE?

I asked the AD at the time if I could try playing a show or two, and he said okay.

WHAT ARE THE KEYS TO SCORING A SUCCESSFUL IMPROV SCENE?

D minor is a good one. Ha ha ha.

HOW IMPORTANT IS MUSIC TO AN IMPROV SCENE?

Obviously I think it’s integral – but in a way that an audience often won’t notice. Which is usually when I feel the best about it: when the music is so closely woven in that it never pulls focus.

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

I always feel the most challenged during Improvaganza or the Prairie Bowl, when we bring groups from around the world to our theatre. I feel like I know the RFT players so well that I can really easily and naturally support our scenes. Different companies have different styles, though, and it’s not always easy to get on the same page as to what the show “is”.

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

The truth is that I find long form a lot more satisfying to play. It allows me to develop themes and musical ideas over the course of the show. I get to actually craft a score, in real time. Short form definitely has its place, though: for me it then becomes about keeping the momentum of the show building, and trying to offer as much variety as possible.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE IMPROV FORMATS/GAMES?

Anything big and epic. On the other end, the more complex character-based scenes can give me a lot of room to explore, and, (though I’m wary of sounding wanky here) to innovate.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR IMPROV STYLE?

I try to score scenes as I would if they were film or TV. Most of the time I play it “straight” and let any comedy come out of that base. An interview with Michael Giacchino (composer for LOST, Ratatouille, Jurassic World) gave me an idea that I try to stand by: rather than trying to manipulate the viewer into “feeling” a certain thing, try to enhance what they’re already feeling. It’s maybe a subtle shift, but for me it makes a big difference.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT ON STAGE?

We recently brought Off-Book: The Improvised Musical to Calgary. In the show, there was a song where Kory Mathewson explained a plot twist over and over, five or six times, with key and tempo changes in between each verse. It was the dumbest thing. I think maybe I just like improv key changes. Successful ones, though. When they don’t work out—holy shit. Run.

WHAT DO YOU DO OUTSIDE OF RFT?

I’m a playwright and actor. I “kind of” run a small creative agency. I travel a lot, and love to hike.

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

It certainly helps to be able to think and problem-solve creatively. Sometimes it gets in the way, though. Improvisers love to riff on jokes, and extend them forever and ever…non-improvisers sometimes are just super not into that. And that’s the reality we live in.

DESCRIBE WORKING FOR RAPID FIRE IN A SINGLE SENTENCE:

On a good day, it’s like dipping your hands into the river of life itself.

Special thanks to Doug Organ and Edmontone Studio www.edmontone.com

QUOTES

“The spritzy interplay of the piano and voice, interspersed with their swirling crescendos in tandem – these rapid changes remind me of the early Regina Spektor…Ben Folds…” – The Sound and Noise

“The strength…comes squarely from his terrific performance which doesn’t weaken or
waver for an instant…His wit, his passion and his art have always been striking.” – Red Deer Express

“Joel Crichton’s song-writing panache is already irresistible, and is surely one of the great musical theatre voices of his generation.” – Vue Weekly

“It makes you a bit breathless to see this kind of risk-taking. How often are you genuinely surprised in a theatre?” – Edmonton Journal