Thursday, August 4, 2011

Spending a Bit of Time with Jill Bernard

Spending a Bit of Time with Jill Bernard from FT Bonnigan on Vimeo.

I had the opportunity and privilege to talk with solo improviser Jill Bernard recently at the 3rd Annual Improv Festival of Oklahoma.

Ms. Bernard has been performing her one-person longform improv format Drum Machine since 2003. Originally a 15 minute number, she has continued to develop and expand the piece into what it is now, a 30-50 minute historical musical... completely improvised. She begins her sets with a brief interview of an audience member and then programs a beat into her Zoom-Rhythmtrak 123, takes a suggestion for a historical event or period and off she goes.

I found out about Jill Bernard in 2005 shortly after I began my own experiments in solo improvisation. "Surely," I thought, "Someone else out there must be crazy enough to attempt this sort of thing." I was led to Andy Eninger, who, in turn, led me to Jill Bernard (an early workshop student of his).

Solo performance is, as it must be, a very individual form of expression, and Jill Bernard has chiseled out for herself a wonderful, original format with Drum Machine. For more information on the enthusiastic and super-busy Ms. Bernard, visit her website at:

Here's an example of Drum Machine filmed at FuseBox Theatre in 2008.

Jill Bernard: Drum Machine - Sea Food Spirit Quest (Full Performance) from FuseBox Theatre on Vimeo.

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