The Helix evolved from a form called ‘Nautilus’ created by former improv coach and current Daily Show-writer Alex Marino. Originally a practice exercise for improv group Hell Buffalo in New York City, then a practice exercise for Big Blue Door’s Smallprov run two years ago, the Helix features location-based scenes created in an unfolding sequence.
Larry Goldstein grew up in the suburbs of NY and DC and came here for grad school in theater. He was part of Big Blue Door in its first season. He was a member of Big Blue Door’s first improv troupe, Lady Pills, as well as numerous ensembles with Big Blue Door, Live Arts, and is a longtime devotee of Playback Theater. He teaches drama at Tandem. Also he’s good at arithmetic.
Debby Prum is a transplanted New England native, banjoist, and fiction writer who took up improv in Big Blue Door’s second year after being prodded relentlessly by a friend. She was on Big Blue Door’s first improv ensemble, Lady Pills, and many since! She writes short stories, movie and book reviews, essays that air on NPR stations and in newspapers and magazines, and writes histories for young adults. She also teaches workshops on the craft of writing. Check out her latest doings on her blog.
Max Hoecker was born in Burbank, CA, raised in MD, and came to Charlottesville to be a radio DJ, a job he still holds twenty-six years later. He found Big Blue Door’s classes through our great friends, Live Arts. Max also performs music, runs, reads, and tries to grow up (but not too much!). Listen to his morning show, Big Greasy Breakfast 530am to 10am on 97.5fm (3WV)!
Deborah Arenstein was born in Rock Hill, SC, lived in Petersburg and Richmond most of her life, and moved to Charlottesville in 2006. She was an extra in the movie Jungle Fever, acted in Richmond theater productions, and once had a farm with chickens, goats, and mini-donkeys.
Will May came to Charlottesville from Chapel Hill, NC twenty-five years ago. He’s a photographer and dad. He first started taking improv classes in the fall of 2014 and performed with Big Blue Door’s summer ensemble Dance Monkey.
John Lawrence is from Norfolk originally. He came to Charlottesville in 1985, left for school in Santa Cruz 1987, and returned for good in 1993. He makes coffee for a living and for fun he has hitchhiked across the country, sailed across the ocean, and walked across fire. Also for fun he started doing improv with Big Blue Door in 2014, and performed with Dance Monkey in the summer of 2015.
Melissa Wender is originally from the Bronx. She’s been in Central Virginia since 1997 and in Charlottesville since 2012. She’s an avid cyclist, and acts as a volunteer at Community Bikes where she loves to teach people how to repair their own bikes. She works as an administrator for UVa’s Women, Gender, & Sexuality Program. Melissa also is facilitator of Big Blue Door’s Story Collective and Stories Confidential show.
Ryan Wender was actually born in Amityville, NY (the famous horror movie locale). He came Charlottesville three years ago by way of Nelson County. He’s been a regular performer with the Hamner Improv Troupe and a dungeon master. These days Ryan works as a hospice nurse and supports Bernie Sanders.