In 2008, Ron Llenado assembled a group of performers at Under the Sun Studios in Concord who just wanted to work on their craft and have fun. Ron requested that his friend, Joe Saam (Big Joe), join them to help him break out of his shell. Together, the group would improvise, play games, perform scenes, create characters, songs, dances, just about everything under the sun. After half a year, they started doing performances and inviting friends to come and watch.
In January of 2009, Joe announced that he wanted to create a theatre company of his own. In Febuary of 2009, Big Joe formed Trapped In A Rumor (TiR). Joe was looking to branch out from the Improv he’d been doing at the studio, focusing on shortform improv and, due to its history in Concord, exploring the Harold form. Joe chose four players to start TiR. They developed material in rehearsals and used the best pieces for their first show only a few weeks after forming. The first show drew about 15 people and it grew from there.
Before long, auditions grew membership in the troupe to nine performers. As the troupe grew, so did attendance, nearly filling Under The Sun. Looking for more exposure, and more time to perform, Trapped In A Rumor left it’s home in Concord.
On December 15, 2009, the Town of Danville agreed to co-sponsor Trapped In A Rumor Improv, providing them rehearsal space and the town’s Village Theatre to perform shows.
In the 2010 year, Trapped In A Rumor Improv performed all of its shows for charities, raising more than $5,400 to support 12 charities including St. Vincent de Paul, Relay For Life – American Cancer Society, Nicholas Colby Fund, Animal Rescue Foundation and The Hume Center.
TiR Improv based its roots on the works of Viola Spolin (considered by many to be the grandmother of Improvisational theatre), Keith Johnstone (inventor of Theatresports and a staple of modern, improvisational comedy) and Del Close (developer of Harold and considered one of the premier influences on modern improvisational theatre).
Many of the games we play were first created by Viola Spolin. Ms. Spolin developed new games that focused upon individual creativity, adapting and focusing the concept of play to unlock the individual's capacity for creative self-expression. She taught her “Theatre Games” system as a workshop for The Second City. Theatre Games are simple, operational structures designed to transform complicated theatre conventions and techniques into game forms, each being built upon a specific focus or technical problem and is an exercise that gives the actor something to focus on and create. Consisting of nearly 220 games and exercises, her book Improvisation for the Theatre has become a classic reference text for educators of acting, improv and other fields. Ms. Spolin was of the belief that every person can learn to act and have creative expression.
In the late 1950’s, Keith Johnstone made an attempt to create more spontaneous actors. He would instruct his students to make faces at each other and to be playfully nasty to each other. In the course of his instruction, he would tell his students, "Don't concentrate," "Don't think," "Be obvious," and "Don't be clever!" His unconventional techniques opened his students' minds to imagination and spontaneity. In the 1970’s, he invented TheatreSports, a staple in modern comedy improv. He created other improv formats, including Life Game and Gorilla Theatre. He has written two books about his work, Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre and Impro For Storytellers.
The works of both Mr. Johnstone and Ms. Spolin have been seen all over the world in the hit TV show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”
An actor, improviser, writer, and teacher, Del Close had a prolific career, appearing in a number of films and television shows. He was a co-author of the book Truth in Comedy along with partner Charna Halpern, which outlines techniques now common to longform improvisational theatre and describes the overall structure of “Harold” which remains a common frame for longer improvisational scenes. The Harold has become the signature form of Chicago's I.O. and the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York and Los Angeles. It is now performed by improvisational theatre troupes and teams across the world. The first Harold, however, was performed by The Committee, a San Francisco improv group, in Concord, California in 1967.