Cupid’s Arrow, an improv show at the Upfront Theatre, is structured like a 70s dating game show with a lot more twists and unexpected fun surprises.
The show runs every Friday and Saturday through the month of February. It starts at 7:30 p.m., and tickets range from $10 to $16.
Cupid’s Arrow is divided into two parts. The first act of the show portrays three contestants, moderated by a host, attempting to impress one person looking for love. Eventually, the person looking for love, along with the help of the audience, chooses one contestant to go on a date with.
The second part of the show depicts scenes that occur during the date. The performers take suggestions from the audience to fill in the gaps and further the storyline.
Matt Gawloski, the person looking for love on the Friday, Feb. 10 show, enjoys how each day the story and outcome of the show are completely different.
“Every show we tell an entirely different story, as it's all improvised,” Gawloski said via email. “We have up to six shows a week sometimes at the theater, and it's a good way to support the arts scene here in Bellingham.”
For those interested in getting into improv on campus, Western Washington University has its own improv club called Dead Parrots Society. Ben Pinkowski, a fourth-year Western student and Dead Parrots Society member, got hooked on improv in high school and has followed his passion ever since.
“Improv to me is really important because it kind of taught me the skills that I need to navigate most of my life,” Pinkowski said. “The ability to just kind of bend to whatever situation shows up has had impacts far beyond the art itself.”
Both Pinkowski and Gawloski said the most challenging part of improv is when scenes don’t go well. Pinkowski said it’s important to remember that he’s not alone when failing on stage and has a team around him to help.
“I try not to get bummed out if a scene I was in didn't work out. Improv is also about support and having each other's back so knowing [they have my back] is always a great feeling,” Gawloski said.
Gillian Myers, the Upfront Theatre general manager, said she got into improv originally because she was asked to be in a play but was terrified she would forget her lines. Her fear of failing on stage led her to take improv classes at the Upfront Theatre when it was on Bay Street. Myers said it didn’t take long until she fell in love with improv.
In March 2020, the Upfront Theatre on Bay Street was forced to close due to COVID-19. In September 2021, the Upfront Theatre moved to Prospect Street and changed from a for-profit business to a nonprofit.
“We wanted to continue the Upfront because it's such a special community, and it’s such a rich art form. It’s not only entertaining and fun to be a part of, but it also teaches people skills that bleed throughout their entire life,” Myers said.
At the heart of improv, the main idea is to have fun. For Gawloski, being an improviser has allowed him to make meaningful connections with people across different states and lets him forget about the daily stresses that can consume his life.
Similarly, Pinkowski said improv has a magic to it that he just can’t seem to get away from.
“You get to play pretend again,” Pinkowski said. “Sometime around the age of like 13, that stops being cool. But we all used to be out in the yard playing pirates, and I don’t think we should have quit.”
Mathew (he/him) is a city news reporter for The Front this quarter. He is a first-year journalism pre-major who is also working towards a minor in Law, Diversity and Justice. Mathew loves to play basketball, explore nature and annoy his cat, Sandy, to the point where she can’t stand him.
You can reach him at email@example.com.