Ten years ago, improv performers Roy Janik, Kaci Beeler, Kareem Badr, and Valerie Ward compiled a list of 300 possible troupe names, rejected them all, and then ended up calling themselves Parallelogramophonograph almost as a joke.
"Picking a name is the hardest park of being in a band or an improv troupe," Janik explains. "Once you pick an amazing name that's super-easy to google and spell, like Parallelogramophonograph, it's a piece of cake."
Much to the surprise of all four members, Parallelogramophonograph (or PGraph for short) is still going strong after a decade together. They specialize in improvised plays, which basically means that they create long-form, usually comedic improv shows based around a particular theme. They've done shows in the style of French farces, 1930s melodramas, after-school specials, and silent films (complete with improvised title cards), among many others.
It took a while for the members of PGraph to realize that they were actually succeeding at their artistic goals, but it started to make sense once they realized that people wanted to come and spend money to see them perform. "It was like, 'Oh, we do have this weekly show. People come to it who are strangers to pay money to watch us, so it must be something,'" Beeler says, to which Ward adds, "And especially when you start having people who will come week after week and don't know you, I think that's a really good indicator that you've got something worthwhile going on."
"That's the way all art works," Badr says. "You have a desire to create something and you keep failing at it until one day you realize 'Oh, we're doing the thing we wanted to do.'"
To celebrate their tenth anniversary, PGraph is re-staging one of their most popular shows, Some Like it Improvised, in which they'll improvise an original play in the style of old-school screwball comedy films. To make the show extra special, they've enlisted local favorites The White Ghost Shivers to provide an all-improvised score for the show. The Shivers will then stick around to play a concert after the show is over.