Dark Side of the Room Anniversary Chat

Photo by Stacey Bode Photography

This Friday night is a very special one! Dark Side of the Room celebrates their year anniversary on their home stage at Dad’s Garage. We took some time to sit down with and talk about their history and the amazing performers who created Dark Side of the Room.

How did Dark Side of the Room get started and whats the history of the group?

After all coming from different backgrounds and experiences, Jon, Rickey, Khari, Jon and Cris all came together at Dad’s Garage. Jon and Rickey were already in the general company. Mark and Cris came in the Rookie class of 2011. Khari, who was a former general company member and current member of the board at the time, returned to performing. It was the first time we had all been in a theatre company where we weren’t the singular black face in the room. We wanted to do something, but we didn’t know what. We kicked around a few ideas. After a trip out to LA where Cris saw the group The Black Version do the black version of movies, Cris was inspired and thought about how DSofR could use movies as their inspiration without copying what The Black Version did. With the help of Renee Delefont, we workshopped various formats and ideas before we found it — improvising the deleted scenes of black characters from movies. Dark Side felt this more freeing and creative, as we could play in the world of the movie without actually having seen the movie. We went out and started doing small shows as a group in front of audiences. Clint Sowell was our original musician and Jon Carr’s roommate at the time. He would play solo guitar with an amp to accompany the scenes. One day during a workshop Clint was playing a Pink Floyd riff and said, “You guys should call yourselves ‘Dark Side Of The Room’, and thus the name was born. Kirsten joined when we were at 7 Stages and Andre after that as part of the new Rookie class at Dad’s Garage. Now Dark Side is a solid 6 members, with an occasional commemorative 7th, shout out to Khari. The rest is history!

So what exactly are you celebrating this anniversary?

With this upcoming anniversary show, we celebrate 3 years of Dark Side looking at itself with purpose and trajectory and 3 years of making sure we celebrate what we’ve built annually. When you come to a Dark Side show you will see the core group as well as a guest artists that you know/love and even possibly an artist you’ve never heard of. Dark Side strives to be a vessel to introduce audience to new artist, and we’ve. worked really hard to build a group in Dark Side that strives to be an example for other groups out there. We’re really proud of having a show that is not only a great experience for us and the audience, but also gives the other talented people in our lives and our communities a platform to be seen and valued. 

Lets take a moment to learn more about the amazing Dark Side of the Room improvisors and team.

CRIS — Cris is one of the original members of DSOTR.  His favorite part of being a member is cutting up with other black performers in a way that reminds him of the humor and fun of family and friends when he was growing up. Also being comfortable to play with his personal version of the black experience without having to explain it.  One his favorite memories of Dark Side was their first festival trip to Toronto. “It was the first time they traveled as a group on the road and it was a lot of fun. It was the first time some members had been out of the country. The accommodations the first night were so ridiculous and laughable. We were basically piled into a weird house that seemed like the residents were squatting. There were no sheets on the one bed, no towels, nothing. It was like a zombie movie. Cris and Jon bailed on the rest of the group and paid for a hotel.  At one point before the show, we were wondering if the mostly white Canadian audiences were going to “get it.” When we came out and started performing, we were pleasantly surprised that they were 100% on board with everything we were doing. It was a great feeling. “

RICKEY — Rickey has been with Dark Side of the Room for over 7 years. He has been extremely blessed to call this group his family. My favorite part of Dark Side is how they make opportunities for artists in the culture to express themselves. They have allowed him to travel to different cities and countries, collaborate with other performers and helped him find his own identity. Whether it’s getting to play with Greg Proops and Colin Mochrie to Andre pitching the film Gung Ho every show for the past couple of years, Rickey is thankful for having this wonderful family.

KIRSTEN — Kirsten has been a member of Dark Side for 5 years. She is the Lady of the Dark Side, of House King, and is the Merch Maven for the group, always remembering to pack and sling dat merch! She grew up in a military family and attended Auburn University and graduated with a BFA in Theatre Performance. She then attended Circle In The Square Professional Summer Theatre Conservatory in NYC. Kirsten then moved to Atlanta and has been a working actor in the city and a proud Georgia Peach for the past 10+ years. She’s an Ensemble member at Dad’s and has also held positions working as a Teaching Artist with the Alliance Theatre Education Dept., schools in the public, private, charter, online and homeschooled school system, The Brink, Kate’s Club, has spent time as one of the hosts of The Moth Atlanta, and is the Youth Programs Director here at Dad’s. One of my favorite parts about being a part of Dark Side is being able to provide a platform for other pigmented professionals in the community and being positive images of representation for those out there wondering if they can do it.

MARK — Mark is a founding member of Dark Side of the Room. He performs comedy around town and teaches improv and sketch writing. He studied film at Northwestern University. During his time at Northwestern, he worked at Comedy Central through the Chris Rock Summer School Program for up and coming comedy writers of color. During his time there, he got to pitch jokes to the writing staff of “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.” He was named Best Professional Funnyman by Creative Loafing Atlanta in 2015. His one man show “The Magic Negro” had a run at Alliance Theatre in 2017. His favorite Dark Side memory is once during a show, Rickey played one of the jet planes from Top Gun.

JON — Jon Carr was a founding member of Dark Side of The Room and has been an improviser at Dad’s Garage Theatre for 15 years. He founded United Atlanta Improv and has helped improv theatres around the Atlanta city come together through collaborative works. He has appeared in a number of plays such as: Cannibal! The Musical and The Wrath of Con as well as written Wrath of Con 1 & 2 and Black Nerd which earn him a Suzi Bass Award.

ANDRE — Originally from the lethal streets of New Orleans, André has begrudgingly made Atlanta home for the past 20 years. By day, he’s a mild-mannered emergency food service agent, but by night… he’s usually in bed watching reality tv and drinking alone. He’s especially excited to be performing at Dad’s Garage because it’ll give him something to do with his hands. Andre has strong opinions about lots of things, ask him it! And if you need advice about New Orleans pro-tips, give him a holler! ! If you’ve never been to a Dark Side show, ask Andre about the movie Gung Ho and then buckle in and hold on tight!  Andre is the absolute best at categories and don’t even get him started on our version of categories. 

Make sure to grab your tickets for the Dark Side of the Room anniversary performance this Friday night at 8pm at Dad’s Garage. We’re honored to be hosting such an important and impactful group.

BUY TICKETS HERE: https://sforce.co/2P1QSOb