Go Deeper Making Art in 2017: Josh Holober-Ward on Roll Play

Making Art in 2017: Josh Holober-Ward on Roll Play

Posted August 21st, 2017

(Left to right) Kevin Regan, Josh Holober-Ward, Emily Davis. Photo by Kevin Regan and Shaun Kreider.

Name: Josh Holober-Ward

Company: ComedySportz Philadelphia

Show in 2017 Festival: Roll Play: An Improvised Adventure

Role: Performer (Dungeon Master)

FringeArtsTell us about your show. 

Josh Holober-Ward: I’ve always been enormously passionate about two things: Storytelling and games. So it only makes sense that I’m a huge fan of Dungeons & Dragons, the most iconic storytelling game out there. I play with a group of improvisers—the exact same group that makes up the cast, actually!—and although I’ve had this idea for a while, this group’s chemistry is what really compelled me to finally make the show a reality. We have such a consistently fun time that I wanted to get an audience in on the ridiculousness. Not just as a spectator, but as a primary collaborator and curveball-thrower.

FringeArts: How have your interests in or approach to art making changed in the last year? 

Josh Holober-Ward: I’ve noticed that the more improv I do and see, the more I appreciate unique twists on the form and audience interaction. Improv done with a compelling theme and stage tech seriously stands out and draws me in, and I’m surprised it’s not done more often! And I love the feeling that the audience is helping build the piece WITH the actors, that we’re not just watching, but sharing, contributing. Seeing you and your friends’ wild ideas and creations be brought to life on stage is an experience 100% unique to this form, and it deserves to be explored to the fullest.

(Left to right) Kristin Finger, Shaun Kreider, and Alli Soowal. Photo by Kevin Regan and Shaun Kreider.

FringeArtsTell us about an instance from 2017 when your interaction with art provided some much needed solace or refuge from outside troubles.

Josh Holober-Ward: Last year, I was in Canada for my grandmother’s funeral. She had passed suddenly without warning a few days before, and my family and I spent those days together, completely devastated. There was this surreal gloom that hung in the air, and all anyone could think about was her absence. On the day of the funeral, the pastor gave a heartfelt speech about the passing of loved ones, but he did something truly unique and strange: towards the end, he reached into a canvas bag and pulled out a puppet of a caterpillar, and used it to tell the story of its transformation into a butterfly. That lighthearted allegory of change and acceptance was the first thing all week that began to lift the gloom. Many of us got up afterwards to tell personal, funny, heartwarming stories about Jane, but that small puppet show will always stick out as the moment that first brought smiles back to our faces.


Roll Play: An Improvised Adventure
ComedySportz Philadelphia

$10 / 60 minutes

September 8th at 10:30pm, 10th at 8:30pm, 17th at 7pm @ The Adrienne Theater, 2030 Sansom St