Bad Dog News and Updates

Performer Spotlight: Tess Degenstein

What sets Tess apart, is her attitude.  A joy to share the stage with, Tess brings a positivity and enthusiasm that is always refreshing.  Those qualities translate on stage to work that is honest, characters with beautiful, strong emotion, and scenes that are simply a joy to watch.  Moreover, she talented.  Tess is a veteran of scripted theatre (and is regularly torn away from Toronto to tread the boards in Edmonton & Regina). She possesses a natural grace and delicate elegance onstage but is the first to push up her sleeves and get rough when a scene asks for it.

How long have you been improvising for? Where did you get your start?

Since I was in Grade Four. Improv at my elementary school was a French language exercise. Scenes were 1 minute long and had titles, which were given to the teams, like “Le Chat est Blue”. You received a “punition” (see: PENALTY) for speaking in English. Depending on who was reffing, you could be penalized for saying “no” instead of “non”. Real.

What takes good improv to great?
I think a fine balance between commitment and ease, between confidence and relaxation in the players onstage. Also: I have a huge…uh…improv boner? for performers who are able to craft dialogue that is so specific to the character they are playing (ie. dialogue that has specific word choice, character POV, etc). When people can do that, a scene can really sing.

Who is your improv hero?
G’uh. Growing up in Saskatchewan, the General Fools were a huge inspiration; they have an amazing capability for storytelling. I think Pat and Pete are incredible; brilliant actors. The Sunday Service is amazing because every member of the ensemble brings such dynamism to the scene work; I admire who everyone in that ensemble has such a specific comedic voice.

What scares you as a performer?
Accents! Also: jumping into the unknown and loving it, which is goofy because that’s exactly what improv is. But there are times when a scene feels so unfamiliar- so new and creative and moment by moment and surprising- it’s when amazing improv happens- but it’s also really scary.

What excites you on stage?

Feeling the momentum when a scene is really firing. The energy passing between performers is really electric.