Theatresports: A Love Story

I’m taking a break from book reviews today for a little stroll down the laneways of 1980s Brisbane – one of those posts that may only make sense to 5 people! It’s ‘how I met your father’, BrisVegas style, inspired by the forthcoming 30th Anniversary of Theatresports show. Jump onto their Facebook page for tickets and details.

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Theatresports Brisbane Tshirts With Logo

Image credit: TS30 Brisbane Theatresports

I met my husband in a bar on New Year’s Eve. There was a lot of alcohol involved; if I’m honest, my memory of the night remains patchy some 18 years later. Romantic huh?

When I hear my single friends agonizing over the how-to-meet-a-man formula, I find myself thinking ‘there is no formula’. Sometimes you just meet at a bar … and discover you have really weird things in common. Things like Theatresports, and you just ‘click’.

Now, when I say my husband and I bonded over Theatresports, it might give you the impression we were thriving thespians. What we had in common was, in fact, failure. We had both done very badly at trying to be actors in our younger days and, Brisbane being Brisbane, this meant we knew a lot of the same people.

Now, when I say we knew a lot of the same theatrical people, it might give you the impression that we were hobnobbing with the A-list. What we had in common was, in fact, that we knew OF the same people. The many charismatic young actors doing the rounds (boom, boom) of Brisbane’s La Boite Theatre were our heroes and crushes in the late ’80s, early ’90s. Most of them wouldn’t speak to us. If only we’d been confident enough to speak to each other! But, alas, it took until the late ’90s … in a bar … on New Year’s Eve.

I’ve written about Theatresports on this blog before; it’s competitive improvised theatre, for the uninitiated. Done well, it’s one of the most admirable forms of stagecraft, requiring lightening reflexes, comedic timing and imagination. Done badly? Well, the scars are still healing.

For serious actors, comedians and even public speakers, it’s a fantastic way to develop confidence and stage presence. When I was at school, it also formed part of my ‘Speech and Drama’ curriculum, offering geeks like me the opportunity to compete in something that didn’t involve running.

Which brings me to something else I’ve written about before on this blog: my girlhood desire to become a Gold Logie winning star of screen and screen.

Picture it: 1988. Brisbane was growing up before our eyes as Expo brought light entertainment to the streets. Armed with nowt but my Season Pass and a dream, I stalked local actors like only an obsessive teenager can. Performers like Adam Couper and Michael Golledge were my Andrew McCarthy and Tom Cruise. What’s more, they were performing every day, for free (if you had a Season Pass), as part of Expo’s epic street entertainment schedule. I took mental notes about their craft and bathed in their luminous X Factor, hoping it might propel me forward to fame and glory (in lieu of any actual talent).

Who knew that these glorious celebrities were all part of Brisbane’s burgeoning Theatresports scene? Not me. That was something I discovered when they began turning up at my school to run workshops. Adam, Michael, Roger Beames, Fedele Crisci … names, names, names! It was all a sign of tremendous things to come. Hollywood or bust.

Tragically, though, my Theatresports career was shortlived. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m simply not a think-on-your-feet kinda girl. I’m the friend you want by your side 10 minutes after the emergency, when I’ve had time to research a plan. My crazy drama teacher insisted on sending our struggling troupe off to an inter-school Youth Theatresports battle. It was carnage of Tarantino-esque proportions, without the witty banter.

If you’re around my age, you’ll join me in thanking your deity of choice that there was no social media in the olden days. You couldn’t even take a decent photo if the lights were low. So, mercifully, what happened at Youth Theatresports stayed at Youth Theatresports. Until I met a guy … in a bar … on New Year’s Eve.

Because lo, in another part of Brisbane, on another echoing stage, a young man had been sweating with nerves and trying desperately to think of something funny to say. He had unwittingly followed a friend into the Colosseum and found himself thrown to the lions. I think he was mostly there to meet girls.

As my own star rose, I got a job sweating in a koala costume while people threw coins at me to save the trees (or something). I realised my theatrical career had probably peaked. It was time to get out of the theatre – or, at least, out of the Queen Street Mall on a 40 degree day – and explore pastures new.

So, I went to uni … he went to work … neither of us went to Theatresports EVER AGAIN. And then one night in a bar we met.

One of our earliest ‘date nights’ was spent at Dockside, watching his talented musician mate Kris Anderson smash out some tunes while lots of those same A-listers staged a Theatresports spectacular. And Kris knew Roger Beames … and my husband-to-be knew all those names that had meant so much to me once upon a time. All the pieces came together and our shared histories spilled out. We talked until the wee hours about misguided dreams and awkward moments … about the ones that got away, and the ones who never knew we were alive.

And perhaps it was all a little bit romantic after all, and sucking at Theatresports was the best thing that ever happened to us?

Over 18 years and 3 kids later, we have the babysitters lined up for another important date night!  If you have Brisbane Theatresports memories, you’ll be excited to hear there’s a 30th Anniversary performance coming up! Tickets are available for the show at (the new) La Boite on 9th June.

Needless to say, we’ll both be there. Though not on stage, obviously.

Have you ever tried Theatresports? What else were you doing badly in the ’80s?

 

 

5 comments for “Theatresports: A Love Story

  1. Mike Golledge
    June 2, 2017 at 9:37 pm

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I look forward to buying you and your husband a drink or two at the 30th Anniversary Show.

    • lara@caingray.net
      June 5, 2017 at 11:59 am

      Oh hi there Mike! I was just looking through some old Expo coffee table books on the weekend and came across a bunch of flyers from Sherwoodstock, Sak Theatre, etc. It was a fun time (from the sidelines!). Looking forward to the show 🙂

  2. Kasper
    May 17, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    I loved watching you and Emma at Theatresports. Our memories of that time may differ, but you’ll always be the Queens of improv to me. Right up there with Ryan Stiles and Cal Wilson. High school hugs, Kaz xx

    • lara@caingray.net
      May 19, 2017 at 10:11 am

      Ha ha, well it was fun, but I never thought I was much good at it! I’m much more comfortable with a script. Cal Wilson is my comedy hero 🙂

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