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BWW Interview: Edi Patterson's The ONE! You Want To See

The Groundlings Theatre Main Company member Edi Patterson will premiere her one-nighter ONE! March 2, 2021.

BWW Interview: Edi Patterson's The ONE! You Want To See

The Groundlings Theatre Main Company member Edi Patterson will premiere her one-nighter ONE! March 2, 2021. Directed by Groundlings alumni/teacher Deanna Oliver, Edi will improv and riff completely on audience suggested topics.

Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Edi!

What was the origin impetus for you and Deanna Oliver to work together on ONE!? Was it an informal - "Whatcha doin'? Wanna do a show together?" Or something more formal?

Actually, Deanna dreamed up this mad genius idea on her own, and then told a few of us about it, and said that she'd like to try it. I was one of the crazy improvisers who said, "Yes" to her request! Deanna has such innovative and cool ideas, and she is genuinely inspired by improvisation. So even though the idea was scary, it also seemed incredibly exciting and unlike anything I had ever done before. I'm so glad I said yes to be her guinea pig.

Since ONE! is completely improvised, does Deanna devise a framework for your show, as opposed to providing a script?

No, it is truly absolutely improvised. Deanna will get a show title for me from the audience, and she'll ask them to give me a name, and whoever I create in the moment for that name will be sort of the "hub" character of the show. The show could literally be anything though - a life story, a seminar, a long poem. I won't know until I'm doing it. The only thing I can guarantee is that quite a few different characters will show up, and they'll all be played by me.

BWW Interview: Edi Patterson's The ONE! You Want To SeeWhat twist of fate brought you to The Groundlings initially? What year did you join the main company?

I had heard of The Groundlings before I moved to L.A., and I knew I wanted to check them out. I was really excited by the idea that The Groundlings was such a prestigious sketch and improv theatre. As a kid I had been OBSESSED with Pee Wee Herman and various SNL characters, and I knew that a lot of things that really cracked me up on a deep level had sprung from this place, "The Groundlings." I went to a Main Company show not long after moving to L.A. and got full body chills watching it. I just had such an intense feeling of "Oh, my God! They do amazing characters. Like, that's clearly their main thing here. That's what I've liked to do since I was little. I HAVE to be a part of this place." I joined the Main Company at the end of 2006 with my pal Mikey Day, who I had gone through the Sunday Company with.

After you joined, did you begin writing your own sketches right away?

Yes, you write your own sketches at The Groundlings. If you want to create a character, you write a sketch where you're playing that character. You write on your own and with others. It's an intense process, and when you're doing a Main show you're writing on your own and meeting up with people to write ALL the time.

BWW Interview: Edi Patterson's The ONE! You Want To SeeCan you name a specific sketch you just love, love, love?

I love any chance I get to play Bean Dip because she's basically a feral animal and provides me with so much space within a written sketch to go wild and improvise by just truly react in the moment. I will also have a forever fondness for a sketch that Allison Dunbar and I wrote called "Girlz 'n Gamez," where we play waitresses at a topless sports bar who you maybe wish weren't waitresses at a topless sports bar, hahahah!

What's the most unexpected audience you experienced at The Groundlings Theatre?

I think the live audiences I've had for ONE! are some of the most special and energized that I've ever experienced in my life. They can feel the danger and the joy and exhilaration of what's being attempted I think, and they come ready to PARTY. It's just the best. The energy is such that I feel like we're all doing the show together.

How integral would you credit your Groundlings experience to your audition confidence?

I would consider it incredibly integral. The Groundlings is definitely one of the major places that I learned through doing. It taught me through performances and workshops, successes and failures, and hilarious friends that all I've got, my only superpower, is that I'm me. If I can be me, and let it rip, I'm doing what I'm supposed to do. EVERYONE'S superpower is that they are their own unique selves. The Groundlings definitely helped me to dig into that and believe and realize it.

BWW Interview: Edi Patterson's The ONE! You Want To SeeWhich gives you more satisfaction - performing on stage/in front of the camera or writing behind the scenes?

Well, both bring me tons of satisfaction, but I find an easy joyful flow exponentially faster when performing. I'm "in it" pretty immediately. Whereas I really enjoy it and feel proud when I write something awesome, but writing is a more challenging process for me. I LOVE getting to write what I will be performing though.

You're also a member of Impro Theatre, which produces full-length plays based on the classics. Do you deep dive into the specific classic script? Or do you find reading the synopsis is sufficient for you to riff on the character you're assigned?

Actually, what we do is a bit different than the question. We do completely improvised plays based on various authors. It's not at all a parody, and we're never assigned characters. We don't do any plays that are already written, don't use any characters that already exist, etc. We study the style exhaustively - reading the author's various works, rehearsing at least twice a week (rehearsing equals improvising for us), talking about what the world was like in this author's time, etc. We learn all we can so that we can know what the world is/was, and then we legitimately improvise a play from scratch based on the audience's suggestions. We don't even know which improvisers will start the play when the lights come up. Even the lights and sound are run by skilled improvisers, and we're literally all making it up together in the moment. All we know is that the intermission should probably happen at whatever time, and the show should probably end at whatever time. During the intermission we don't plan anything. We only make sure we know each other's character names. And then, to help us not to even be tempted to plan, we ask the audience after the intermission what characters they want to start the second half. Those names that the audience gives are never ever predictable, so it keeps us out of our heads and totally in the moment. We have sets and costumes and it is legitimately improvised theatre. We do all sorts of styles, including Jane Austen, Twilight Zone, Shakespeare, Chekhov, Tennessee Williams, etc.

BWW Interview: Edi Patterson's The ONE! You Want To SeeAny plans for some online Impro Theatre shows?

We've actually had some really cool ones during COVID and there will be more! I co-directed an improvised horror movie online for Impro Theatre with Ryan Smith, and each show was sooo fun, and truly scary and funny. We leaned into the Zoom format and it was to really cool effect. The style, and it being online, led to such real (and terrifying) acting. It was a blast.

Any other Groundlings you perform with in Impro?

Lots of Groundlings and people from The Groundlings world have guested with Impro and/or taken class there. Julian Gant did one of the HORROR UNSCRIPTED shows recently (he was awesome), Patrick Bristow has guested with us, etc.

You played Fran in Knives Out. Can you share any fun behind-the-scene moments you had with your scene partners Chris Evans and Ana de Armas?

First of all, Ana is one of those people on the earth that is so beautiful it's almost shocking. Like, you look at her and your brain goes, "Wait. Are we sure you're a human? Is your beautiful spaceship right around the corner waiting for you?" And Chris is just ridiculously bright and genuinely fun and present. They're both very cool people. Sorry if that's a boring answer, but them's the facts. I had a really good time making that movie, and that's where I also fell in hard love with the badass Jamie Lee Curtis.

BWW Interview: Edi Patterson's The ONE! You Want To SeeWhat's up next for Edi Patterson? More acting in and writing for The Righteous Gemstones?

Yes! We wrote a really rad second season and I can't wait to start filming it soon! I love the show so much and am really, really proud of it. I also play a character in upcoming HBO Max animated series Ten-Year-Old Tom, and have a fun thing in the upcoming Hulu feature Plan B.

Thanks again, Edi! I look forward to checking out you're being the ONE!

For ONE! March 2nd viewing tickets, log onto www.groundlings.com


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