The Black Vault

From Austin Improv Community Wiki

The Black Vault was an improvised longform show performed in the style of the novels and stories of H.P. Lovecraft.


Each show in the mainstage run was divided into three stories. A predetermined group of characters would begin on stage, establishing a framing sequence. Eventually, one of the characters would say a phrase which might constitute the title of a Lovecraftian story, and the title was taken up by one of the show's two predetermined main characters. That character would then narrate a story, stepping into and out of the scene as desired. At the conclusion of the story, the framing sequence would resume, until a second title ess announced, at which case the second narrator would begin his or her story. After that, the framing sequence resumed for a final time, at which point the frame itself became the third story and one (non-predetermined) character from the frame became the final narrator.


The Black Vault stories were generally of three main styles:

  • Weird Horror—Tales of unnatural doings moored in such horror tropes as reanimation of the dead, infestation, mind control, or madness.
  • Dreamscape—Following the style of Lovecraft's "Dream Cycle," these stories focused on the inner life of the dreaming mind, usually with a fantasy or science fiction bent.
  • Cosmic Horror—As in the stories in Lovecraft's "Cthulhu Mythos," these stories focused on unknowable and largely unseen forces from beyond the stars, represented on Earth by mysterious cults and strange ancient artifacts.


Post-run Performances

After its mainstage run, there were a number of one-off shows:

Tales from the Black Vault

In 2014, the cast began production on Tales from the Black Vault, a podcast version of the show. Plans were made for an eight-episode audiodrama anthology of improvised stories in the style of H. P. Lovecraft. They recorded a demo episode at the director's home, and then launched a kickstarter campaign to raise funding to produce a whole season. The kickstarter raised enough money to produce *two* seasons, with the first season premiering in mid-March of 2015.

The Black Vault 2019

The Black Vault returned in 2019 at the Institution Theater with a new run of six shows, using the same basic format, with an entirely new cast.





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