Live action in a cinema?
June 6, 2012 10:00 PM   Subscribe

Looking for examples of live performances at movie theatres

I remember hearing about an independent cinema in the US that held regular events where local actors did voiceovers to old films. I'm working on a similar project and looking for inspiration.

Any good examples of people mixing live theatre with old movie footage? Or links to cinemas currently doing something similar?
posted by pablocake to Media & Arts (16 answers total)
Do Rocky Horror Picture Show live casts count?
posted by SisterHavana at 10:13 PM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

There are bars in Chicago that offer Movieoke, where a clip is shown with subtitles and people act out the scene. I've been; I can't say it works that well.
posted by hydrophonic at 10:20 PM on June 6, 2012

Rescoring silent movies is a thing. There was one five or six years ago with a compilation of silent Shakespeare movies that had new music by Laura Rossi. Or the CBSO did it the other way around, where they released music online then asked people to make videos for them. The winning vid got a screening with the soundtrack played live by the CBSO.

Or on a sillier note, you know about the Walking Dead trailer, right?
posted by the latin mouse at 10:36 PM on June 6, 2012

I'm guessing you know live voiceovers to a film was the the plotline of 1993 movie Hercules Returns. I don't think I've seen much of it but it may shed some light on the process or challenges (as much as a schlocky comedy can).

Metropolis seems to frequently get a run with live scoring, but I've seen silent movies showing with an organist. I would love to see a junction of theatre and cinema... beyond projection being used in dance/plays I can't help much.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 10:58 PM on June 6, 2012

There are shadow casts and live performances for Repo! The Genetic Opera, similar to The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

My uncle's band used to have shows at the local arty movie theater where the band would perform and they would play a movie of the band's choosing in the background. They don't do it anymore because the theater changed hands and it's saaaad.

It might be more mainstream than what you're looking for, but you could try the Fathom Events website. I attend live shows in theaters like the This American Life and MST3K live performances. I've always gotten the tickets and information from there and they seem to list most live movie theater events.
posted by Aquifer at 11:26 PM on June 6, 2012

Response by poster: Wow thanks for all the answers folks! I'm looking into your suggestions now.

The project I'm working on is pretty cool. The National Film and Sound Archive (of my country) is giving us access to their old unattributed footage. We'll go through it and choose some clips for screening, for which musicians will write live scores. But we also want to involve live theatre somehow, hence the question. We'll probably end up doing some voiceovers, but just wanted to see what other people may have done.

Anyway your comments so far are very helpful! Thanks Mefites! :)
posted by pablocake at 11:41 PM on June 6, 2012

Hedda/Nedda Lettuce sometimes does her version of MST3K at Clearview Chelsea Classics.
posted by brujita at 11:54 PM on June 6, 2012

hedwig and the angry inch follows in the rocky horror shadowcast/floor show tradition.
posted by nadawi at 12:09 AM on June 7, 2012

This bio mentions improvisational film scoring, following the audience's suggestions.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:10 AM on June 7, 2012

Pretty sure the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin has shows that meet your criteria.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 4:12 AM on June 7, 2012

I saw one of the performances of the Guy Maddin film Brand Upon the Brain at an old theater in NYC. It's a silent film with live narration and accompaniment. What I loved most, though, was getting to watch the foley artists at work. Not "theatre" per se, but certainly live action, and totally attention-grabbing.
posted by unknowncommand at 5:01 AM on June 7, 2012

If you are looking for inspiration, perhaps a few episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 would help.
posted by CathyG at 5:26 AM on June 7, 2012

I am all about the Showgirls live commentary.

We got the special boxed set and David Schmader does a commentary that is wickedly funny. He got his start doing this live, in theaters.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:18 AM on June 7, 2012

Brand Upon the Brain was amazing
posted by Jason and Laszlo at 6:27 AM on June 7, 2012

Yeah, definitely BRAND UPON THE BRAIN. Here's some footage of what the live performances were like. Based on your description of your project, adding a set of Foley artists would be a pretty fantastic addition.

As mentioned above, BRAND UPON THE BRAIN had live narrators, which was probably inspired by Japanese cinema's Benshi tradition; the benshi were live performers that would provide narration and commentary on the film. You may find that relevant to your project as well.

Different cities used different narrators, by the way, which the film's Criterion release attempts to replicate. I saw it in Chicago with Crispin Glover narrating it -- it was quite an experience.
posted by orthicon halo at 6:32 AM on June 7, 2012

There used to be a group in Los Angeles that would do a show called Point Break Live!, which was a live reenactment of the movie and used a random audience member to play the role of Keanu's Johnny Utah. I don't remember if the movie was actually on during this.

Doug Benson does a live show at the Silent Movie Theatre in LA called The Doug Benson Interruption, during which they play some movie and Doug, a comedian or two and an actor from the movie sit in the front row with microphones and do a live commentary, a la Mystery Science Theater.

There's also Horrible Movie Night that occurs at a comic shop in Hollywood. They pick one terrible movie, encourage shouted responses to the more awful lines or plot points, and "our resident improv troupe The Omelettes will take the stage at various points during the show to create scenes based the film (also with your suggestions). "
posted by therewolf at 1:50 PM on June 7, 2012

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