Tara joined Rapid Fire Theatre at the beginning of the 2012 season.
She first discovered a love of improvisation in her high school and university days, and has brought it back into the classroom since 2007, as a high school drama teacher. After a few years of teaching and coaching her school’s Canadian Improv Games and Nosebowl teams, she decided to take a deep breath and get onstage herself. Tara is so grateful to be a part of the RFT family!
Tara has trained with Rapid Fire Theatre, as well as NYC’s Magnet Theatre and the Upright Citizens Brigade under instructors Amy Shostak, Mark Grenier, Russ Armstrong, Armando Diaz, and John Murray. She has performed onstage with RFT at Theatresports, and in the Chimprov troupes Dear Diary, Press Start and The Temps. She seriously loves to pretend.
TV SHOWS: Seinfeld, Arrested Development, The Office, Derek, Roseanne, The Twilight Zone, Sherlock, Jeopardy!
MOVIES: Some Like it Hot, Harold and Maude, Home Alone, Adaptation, Manhattan, The Apartment, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?, Annie Hall, Beauty and the Beast, Hocus Pocus, Uncle Buck, It’s a Wonderful Life
ACTORS: Mark Rylance, Woody Allen, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, Mark Ruffalo, Jack Lemmon, Ethan Hawke, Sofia Vergara, Kate Winslet.
VIDEO GAMES: N/A. I have done a lot of video game observing in my life, but my hands haven’t held a controller. The closest I’ve come is Roller Coaster Tycoon or Amazon Trail in middle school. I don’t even have any game apps on my phone. I love board games, though!
AUTHORS: Richard Matheson (!!!), Jez Butterworth, Samuel Beckett.
MUSIC AND PODCASTS: This American Life, Welcome to Night Vale, Serial, Wire Tap, Mousetalgia. My car is tuned to CBC Radio One- I love listening to podcasts and talk radio more than I do music. BUT, if I have to choose, I choose Otis Redding.
WEBSITES: Facebook, the weather network.com, micechat.com (I am completely obsessed with Disneyland and drive there multiple times a year.)
FOOD: Yes, please. Everything. I am motivated by food. Mac and cheese. Miss Vickie’s Salt and Vinegar chips. Shake Shack. In n Out Burger. Peanut butter and chocolate. Bacon and mushrooms. Safeway doughnuts. Pomme frites and Dole whips from Disneyland. I also make a mean kale smoothie.
WORDS TO LIVE BY: “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”- Walt Disney
I love playing with relationship onstage, because I feel like that’s what really matters – onstage and in life.
HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH RAPID FIRE?
I came to know RFT through the Wildfire Festival, where my students would compete in the Canadian Improv Games. We would always stay late to watch Theatresports and CHiMPROVv shows, and I was insanely jealous of all of the fun everyone was having onstage. So, I took a few workshops, hoping that it would make me a better coach. I learned that I loved improvising, and that improv liked me back. My fairy godmother, Amy Shostak, asked me to audition for the company.
WHAT ARE THE KEYS TO A SUCCESSFUL IMPROV SCENE?
- Being affected. Let your character be affected by everything, and the audience will care- whether that comes in the form of them laughing at the comedy of the scene, or being on the edge of their seats for a more dramatic scene.
- A past teacher, Russ Armstrong, once told me to treat everything your scene partner offers you with love and suspicion. Love the offer and decide that it’s the best gift you could have been given, and suspect that your scene partner had a specific purpose for that offer, and that it is now up to you to do something with it.
- Have fun onstage and the audience will have fun with you.
WHAT ARE SOME TIPS YOU CAN OFFER AUDIENCE MEMBERS ABOUT GIVING SUGGESTIONS TO IMPROVISERS?
Please give them! Don’t be shy — shout them out! Don’t feel pressure to be interesting or creative. It makes it so much easier for us for suggestions to be ordinary, everyday and relatable. Thank you! And, hey, thanks for coming to the show.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT SHORT FORM VS. LONG FORM AND VICE VERSA?
I like short form because it pushes me outside my comfort zone and forces me to advance quickly. I am an expander- I love painting scenes with ridiculous amounts of detail and creating dense tapestries of character development. Short form is quick and dirty, and tends to lean more towards comedy and game-y improv, which is not always natural for me. I am not really funny. Long form is my baby. I want to cradle it in my arms and fight to get it into a respected preschool. It allows me to breathe more onstage and let discovery happen more organically. I really, really dig it.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR IMPROV STYLE?
I love playing with relationship onstage, because I feel like that’s what really matters – onstage and in life. I have spent a lot of time coaching improv, so I am often the objective third eye in a scene, even when I am a character in that scene. I also really love to just play onstage. As I become more confident as a performer, I am learning to take bigger risks and just be more of a giant goof.
WHAT IS YOUR MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT ON STAGE?
In 2013, my students won the Nosebowl tournament, and their prize was to play two Theatresports shows with RFT improvisers — so I got to play against them! It was the best because when their scene did better than ours, I could accredit it to my incredible coaching. If ours was better, I could rub it in their faces maliciously. And I did.
WHAT DO YOU DO OUTSIDE OF RFT?
I am a high school teacher; I teach drama, tech theatre, musical theatre, improv and leadership. I also hang out with my husband, walk my dog, and am currently training for a half marathon.
HOW DOES IMPROV COME IN HANDY IN YOUR DAY-TO-DAY LIFE?
I teach it, and I coach it. But more than that, improv teaches people to be positive and to work with other people to solve problems. It teaches me to take risks. It forces you to be a better listener, and to read people better. I am becoming an empath like Commander Deanna Troi from Star Trek the Next Generation.
DESCRIBE WORKING FOR RAPID FIRE IN A SINGLE SENTENCE:
You get your money for nothing and your chicks for free.