After nearly a year, the love child of John Hartman and Mikala Bierma — “Kapowski,” a sketch comedy show written, produced and performed by the two students — will run for three nights at the Frieze Building’s Arena Theater as part of the Basement Arts series. “(Our show) is the only student-written thing performed at the Basement this semester,” Hartman said.
Basement Arts productions usually consist of performances for which student directors and actors re-imagine the works of other playwrights. But Hartman and Bierma, who both perform in the campus comedy troupe Witt’s End, began writing the sketches for their production last summer. They’ve continued to meet at least once a week for the entire school year to continue working on ”Kapowski.”
The pair originally wrote sketches that included two roles for them to perform. But when they submitted their proposal to the Basement Arts executive board, Hart and Bierma promised to open the sketches up to include other cast members as well as a design and lighting staff.
Their labor of love turned into a comedy that now involves no less than 12 different sketches. Hartman and Bierma star in the production, along with four supporting cast members. Hartman said that the performance depends heavily on satirical comedy.
“(The show) satirize(s) everyday life and people. It makes fun of different aspects of society,” Hartman said. He added that as a writer, he uses satire as means to address the problems that one faces in the world. One skit, called “Sloppy Second Chances,” is set up as a mockumentary, humorously following reformed prostitutes who attempt to rejoin the job market.
“A lot (of the show) revolves around surprise — you don’t know what’s going on,” Hart said.
One problem that the duo faced in being so deeply involved in the inception and development of their project was the possible conflict of interest entailed in both directing and acting in their sketches. Because both Hartman and Bierma star in each sketch, it’s not easy for them to critique their own performances.
“We’re also directing (“Kapowski”). So we’re giving people in the scenes direction, which is why we had to hire an assistant director — to give us notes,” Hartman said.
Hartman and Bierma’s experience improvising in Witt’s End performances provided a good basis around which to frame the show. While sketch comedy is more closely related to improv comedy than it is to stand-up, Hartman also has a background experience in that field.
“It’s been our project for the whole year, from the beginning to now,” Hartman said. The culmination of Hartman and Bierma’s work will make its debut tomorrow night.