A while ago, Will Hines wrote about something he calls sympathetic disagreement on his blog ImprovNonsense. When I teach this idea, I usually explained it like this: “First, repeat what your scene partner just said that you agree with, and then politely object to one specific part of it.”
I love dogs so much. I’d rather live with the meanest dog than with the kindest person.
I like dogs too, they’re awesome. But I’ve met some pretty mean dogs, who wanted to rip out my throat.
In this instance, Brad is taking on a point of view that many people share, that he loves dogs. But he takes it to an absured extreme. Continue reading →
Got a really great email today from my old company (!) on the topic of “problematic” material in scenes. There’s a lot to digest, and it isn’t really my place to share it all here, but something that stuck out for me is that if a character in your scene is racist or sexist or homophobic or just gross, then there are two possible outcomes for that character: either they change and repent, or they stick to their ugly guns and suffer real consequences (a literal or metaphorical death). This is a choice that character must make, but those are the only two options that can leave your scene in a good place.
Really simple concept, but super useful. I’ll definitely hang onto it for later.
I would like to highlight the ‘if’ here. ’If a character in your scene is racist’. You really, honestly, don’t need these characters in your show. But if they come up, this is a good start to practicing dealing with them, for the sake of the audience and of your fellow players.
It’s hard to weigh in on something, when I don’t know fully what the original argument in the email was, but I’d like to respond to this.
As an improv teacher and the artistic director of a theater, I understand the desire to deal with racist, sexist or homophobic characters in these ways: make them repent, make them suffer consequences or simply erase them from your stage. But I want to satirize racism and prejudice on my stage, not punish it or ignore it. If you believe that something in society is wrong or ugly, it’s your job to call attention to it as an artist, to expose it as irrational or illogical. I want people to laugh at it in a way that delegitimizes it and highlights how unfair and grotesque it is.
Mick Napier, the Artistic Director of the Annoyance Theatre is our guest for the IRC Podcast. We talk about nudging students to get better, breaking out of your habits, playing without making sense, presenting long form, improv auditions and Martin de Maat.
I’ve started a new podcast with fellow Under The Gun ensemble member Will Meinen. We are doing a weekly recap of HBO’s show True Detective. It’s not available yet via iTunes and may not be for a few days, but you can download and listen to the podcast on our website at listen.undertheguntheater.com or use this link for podcast players that use RSS feeds.
There is a new episode of the IRC Podcast up today. It’s an interview with Kevin Reome, teacher at the Second City Training Center in Chicago. We talk about how to treat students new to improv, using you statements and being the guy that everyone wants to improvise with.
Angie & I would like very much to thank you for participating in our general auditions. Auditions are always bittersweet. It’s exciting and to invite new people to be a part of the theater, but it also means saying no to a great number of people.
We had 330 show up for the auditions and we are going to interview less than 30 of them for the 12-14 spots we have available. Unfortunately, we are not able to call you in for an interview.
It takes guts to do auditions like this. Between Angie and I, we auditioned for Second City Tourco at least a half dozen times. I don’t think either of us ever got called back. It’s not a good feeling. It’s not fun if you think you did badly. It’s also not fun if you think you did well but didn’t get called back.
It’s also not fun for us to say no. In the mix of auditioners were plenty of our current and former students, many people we have worked with on shows and many who we hope to work with in the future.
If being a part of Under The Gun is important to you, please keep an eye out for future auditions. We’d love to see you again at future general auditions or for auditions for specific projects.
The Apprentice Program
We mentioned at the audition that we will be announcing an educational opportunity for the summer. You can read about it now on our website here:
We will be assembling an ensemble of student performers to rehearse, learn and grow together over 13 weeks. The program will consist of weekly coaching sessions and weekly shows. Please check it out if you are interested and feel free to email me with any questions you may have.
I do want to stress that this program is not a requirement for future auditions or opportunities. We do not require people to take our classes in order to audition for our shows. This is an educational program that we are very excited to roll out and we hope it will appeal to many of you who auditioned.
You signed up to audition for Under The Gun Theater this week. Please read this message carefully and follow the directions to make the audition process go smoothly.
If you have forgotten what time you signed up for, you can go back to the signup here. You may want to look at it using a desktop computer, the mobile version doesn’t display all the names.
Please show up 20 minutes before your time slot. Go to 956 West Newport. The theater door will be open.
Please download, print and fill out the attached PDF form. Bring it along a headshot, and a theater resume. If you do not have a headshot, any picture that looks like you is fine. If you cannot fill out the form beforehand, copies will be available at the audition.
If you are not coming to the audition, please remove yourself from the signup as soon as possible. Please make room for someone else to audition. It is unprofessional to sign up for an audition and not show up, so take yourself off the audition list instead.
Do not call or email us if you are going to be late or can’t make the audition. We will be too busy during the auditions to check for your message.
Dress in something that you would wear for an improv performance.
Under The Gun Theater is having auditions next week. There are still spaces available if you want to audition for us. Sign up here.
If cast, you will be eligible to be a part of our “all skate” improv shows. For all skates, we invite the whole company to be in the show and as long as you can make the rehearsals, you will be rotated into the cast.
We are not a pay to play. There are no monthly dues. You don’t have to have taken our classes. You don’t pay us to be your director or for rehearsal. We want your time and your passion and effort, not your money.
We invite our ensemble members to pitch shows. And their show ideas are given priority over outside pitches, especially if they involve other ensemble members.
As an ensemble member if you produce a show, and the show does well, we will give you a cut of the door.
Ensemble members are invited to be a part of regular showcases.
Perform as much or as little as you want. Some ensemble members perform several times each weekend and others only perform a couple times a month. If your life outside of Under The Gun gets super busy, you can cut back on your commitments and return when you have more time.
Work in a supportive environment with people who are passionate about comedy and improv, and who are nice people to work with.
No committees deciding your fate. We won’t cut you for capricious reasons. Once you are a part of the ensemble, we are committed to help you become a better performer.
Free rehearsal space. If you need rehearsal space, and we have room for you, it’s free.
We are generous with comps. Your boyfriend or girlfriend won’t need to pay every time they come to see you.