Arts and Culture

It began in summer 2014. 

Louisville Improvisers co-founder and artistic director Chris Anger got an idea: an improv show during Kentucky Shakespeare’s annual festival in Central Park

So he talked to the company’s producing artistic director, Matt Wallace.

“He said, ‘Yeah, that sounds good. What about you guys doing a late night show?’” Anger said.

This is the sixth season of the after-hours comedy show known as Late Night Shakes.  

Anger and actor Brian Hinds take the stage after the festival’s headline productions. 

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

Louisville Improvisors’ Chris Anger and Brian Hinds rehearse at Kentucky Shakespeare’s headquarters in Old Louisville on July 20, 2021. They used the prompt “ebb and flow” to launch into a story about a kingdom facing flooding and only its marine biologist queen can save the day.

They go for 30 minutes of, what they call, “Shakespeare-adjacent” high jinks, improvising off of the Bard’s work. 

It starts with audience input. 

Sometimes people will shout out suggestions, Hinds said. Other times, he’ll point to someone sitting in the audience and say: “Real quick. Don’t think about it too much. Give me your, like what job did you want to be when you were a kid? Or what city did you grow up in?”

Prompts like that have recently led to “The Geologist of Timbuktu,” for example “ Shakespeare’s great lost play,” Hinds said.

From there, completely on the fly, the two start to build a play while dressed in puffy-sleeved shirts and using Shakespeare-eque hats in order to portray a number of different characters ― Hinds said the hats go a surprisingly long way.

Matt Wallace

Hinds and Anger take on a variety of different characters as they improvise what would become known as, “The Geologist of Timbuktu,” during a June 26, 2021 Late Night Shakes show.

And they pull in all kinds of Shakespeare-like tropes.

“The twins, storms and betrayal,” Hinds said.

“And royalty,” added Anger, “the tavern, the town square, unrequited love.”

Anger said it involves lots of trust in each other.

“Being comfortable with each other, and building our chemistry… That gives you all the freedom in the world,” he said. “You can say anything and do anything you feel like I’ll be okay. I’m not gonna flounder.”

Late Night Shakes returns to Central Park, as part of the Kentucky Shakespeare summer festival, on Saturday and in mid-August.

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

Louisville Improvisors’ Chris Anger and Brian Hinds rehearse for their Late Night Shakes show on July 20, 2021.

Stephanie Wolf is WFPL's Arts Reporter.