A stay at a drug-filled pagan commune in rural Sweden might not be everyone’s ideal vacation, but Echo Lake knows you could use a good trip. After the opening series of seemingly incongruous sights, sounds and movements, “Midsommar” is a comedy of manners. Inspired by the recent Ari Aster film, comedians Courtney Hopkin, Lisa Michelle Jackson, Cortnie Jones & Valerie Ward create a festival of organic thoughts, movements and noises that dive deep into the unknown of folk horror, enhancing the dread in organic improv, and playing with our perceptions through a number of devices. Many things are possible in “Midsommar,” but the surest is that there’s nothing else like it. You all will be invited to participate, and who knows, you could be their next Queen.
What and why is Echo Lake?
Cortnie Jones: Echo Lake is a group of friends who just love performing together. We do organic improv, which is based on group mind and 10% performance art. We started performing about 5 years ago and we have so much fun with each other, we just can’t stop.
Courtney Hopkins: Echo Lake is an improv troupe. We (Cortnie Jones, Valerie Ward, Lisa Jackson and Courtney Hopkin) started this troupe because we had all performed together before and really enjoyed how weird we would get during shows. That’s was the skeleton of it. Then we found that when we’d do shows, we’d sort of congeal into a single character or point of view, like geese flying in a V formation or penguins all standing with their beaks pointing straight in the air. We very much act like birds. One of us will make crazy noises and then we’ll all make crazy noises. We often find ourselves shouting at an invisible adversary together or bleating like goats. It’s communal and it’s organic and it’s so so strange but it’s always funny.
Lisa Jackson: Echo Lake is four women who try to make each other laugh by doing the weirdest stuff we can and then copying it and then finding new weird stuff to do, while people watch it. Some people have said Echo Lake is “therapy” but others’ have said it’s “the universe blowing up”, but maybe it’s both and neither.
What is Echo Lake: Midsommar?
CH: Echo Lake: Midsommar is a comedy ritual where we choose the May Queen (in October) from the audience. We do what we specialize in, purely organic improv, but we have added elements of ritual to the show. We call out to goddesses and weave our own maypole. We’ll taunt a bear.
LJ: Like the SAT analogies, Echo Lake :: Midsommar as Midsommar :: Echo Lake but maybe without a bloody mallet to the head.
CJ: It’s a folk horror organic comedy paying tribute to the Ari Aster film Midsommar. Right? Is that what we’re doing?
CH: When the movie Midsommar came out, people kept talking to us about how the movie basically had lots of organic improv in it and how it was very much like what we already do. We thought it would funny to “reclaim” our format by taking what they’d done and making it our own again.
Plus we love crafts. We have glued so many fake flowers together for this show. We hand made the set. We hand made our dresses.
There’s a bear. There’s a poncho for an audience member to wear….
CJ: I saw the film and laughed at inappropriate times because it was clearly an Echo Lake show on drugs. I love the folk horror genre. Most things don’t scare me, but the thought of getting caught up in cult is truly scary – the human mind is wild. Spiders? Nah. Ghosts? Nah. Accidentally getting caught up in a strange ritual? Yes, yes that scares me. So why not highlight that in a fun comedy way? We talked about it and 28 hours later we did a one-off show that went so well we got a run at ColdTowne, and it’s the perfect place to share this experience with an audience.
What can audiences expect?
LJ: Lemonade and entry into the cult.
CH: Expect to laugh. A lot. Expect to feel joyful and replenished after the show. Expect to feel genuinely creeped out but all in the safety of our protective net. We’d never ever let anything happen to you. We’d never let the bear hurt you.
CJ: Audiences will be confused but intrigued, laughing but crying, welcomed but afraid. You know, just a normal day.
Echo Lake is ushering in spooky szn Saturday, September 28 at 7 p.m. at ColdTowne. Don’t miss the rituals, Saturdays through October 26. Tickets are $10 and ColdTowne is BYOB.