New Fall Performance Class @ Upstairs Gallery

Kevin Mullaney

Kevin Mullaney

This is an eight week class for intermediate and advanced improv students with some long form improv experience. You will learn how to create fun, interesting, two-person scenes; explore different ways to create second beats from those scenes; and try connecting different threads at the end of your piece. There will be a special focus on game of the scene and developing characters with interesting points of view.

Best of all, the class includes four performances at Upstairs Gallery in Andersonville. Each show will be hosted by your teacher and you will receive notes after the show. The following week, in class, will feature exercises to work on the specific areas of potential improvement identified from the last show. And it only costs $199!

Who is Kevin Mullaney?

Kevin Mullaney was the original Artistic Director for the UCB Theatre in New York. He was also the first director of their training program. Before that he taught at iO Theatre and directed their touring company, the iO Road Show. He is the host of the Improv Resource Center Podcast and most recently one of the Co-Artistic Directors at the Chicago Improv Festival. Find out more about Kevin Mullaney here.

When is the class?

  • Class meets Saturdays 12-3pm, September 8, 15, 22; October 6, 13, 20, & 27 & November 3 (No class September 29)
  • Performances are Sundays at 7:30pm, October 14, 21, 28 & November 4

Where is the class?

Upstairs Gallery
5219 N Clark Ave
3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60640

How much will it cost?


How many students will be in the class?

Maximum number of students will be 16

How do I apply?

Students can apply to be in this class by filling out this form before midnight on Monday August 20th. Students will be chosen from the pool of applicants. If you are chosen for the class, you’ll be notified by Friday, August 24th.

Click to Apply

Using Kickstarter to Fund Your Theater Project

Dear friend,

If you are producing a show and using Kickstarter to fund that show, please have at least one funding option that is a deal. If your show tickets are going to be $20, offer a $15 gift level where I get a ticket. Better yet, offer a $25 level where I get 2 tickets. Give me a bargain and I’ll jump on it.

Instead what I’m seeing is a lot of Kickstarter and Indiegogo projects that look more like plain fundraisers where you are soliciting donations and giving token gifts in return. This is ok, I’m sure some of them will get funded, especially in cases where the company has a track record and lots of loyal fans (or friends and family). You can still have gift levels which are essentially donations: $5 for a thank you or $300 for opening night tickets and an afterparty. $1000 to get a producing credit. But if you really want to exceed your expectations, offer a deal too.

Thank you,
Someone who wants to give you money

P.S. This is not about your project in particular.

Show names, group names and form names

Let’s say there is an improv group named Master Blaster and they decide to do a show called Inside the Thunderdome and for that show that create a new improv form that features stage combat that they call The Gibson.

Is it ok for you to do another impov show using stage combat? Yes, of course. It’s an idea. You can’t patent or copyright an idea. So of course it’s acceptable. It’s even better if you do three things:

  1. Add something to the form or transform it to make it your own,
  2. Give credit to the original group as the inspiration in the program and elsewhere,
  3. Name the show something unique so that there is no confusion with the original. Don’t call the show The Gibson, or Thunderdome or Master Blaster. 

For instance, the Family did a form called The Movie in a show called Three Mad Rituals and also in Dynamite Fun Nest. When Besser taught the movie in NYC with a new cast, it became Feature Feature, and the next generation after that became Instant Cinema. He didn’t call the show Three Mad Rituals or even The Movie, they gave it a brand new name.

I’m not trying to call out anyone in particular. People do this over and over again, all over the place. And there are reasonable exceptions. This is more like a challenge to people to come up with their own titles for shows. 

But that’s just my old, crotchety opinion. And by the way, I’m keeping the ball that landed in my yard.

Photo by Trix0r on flickr

Behavior is a game

We work too hard at the top of the scene. We think we need to figure out everything in the first few lines. Are you my mother? Are you my boss? Are we on a bank heist? Are we on the playground? Is that a cane in your hand or a magical staff? Do we need to know everything?

Photo by Trix0r on flickr

Photo by Trix0r on flickr

No. We don’t. And the audience doesn’t care if we come up with some amazing back story.

The audience wants to see our behavior. They want to know how we relate to each other. That’s what a relationship is.
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Advanced Improv Intensive at UCBT in August

I’ll be teaching a week long intensive class at UCB Theatre in August. It’s going to be in the afternoons 1-5pm, August 6-10th. It will cover a variety of topics like improvising from the gut, la rondes, character wheels, weird Harolds and more. It’s going to be posted today on the UCB website and should be open for registration in about 20 minutes.

Line Learner, iOS app for actors

Line Learner

Line Learner, an app for iOS devices

Line Learner is a great little app to help actors learn lines. You record your lines and your cue lines from the script. You then set it so that it leaves a silent gap for all of your lines when you play it back. It’s just like running lines with a partner giving you the cue lines. It’s very convenient and effective.

Applications for my class are due on Sunday

I’ll be teaching an improv performance class at Upstairs Gallery in June and July. This class is going to be awesome. I decided for this class that I should have an application process. I’m accepting applications until Sunday, then coming up with the roster by Tuesday.

Keep in mind that if I get enough people, I may open a second class on Sundays. So if you can’t make the Saturday class, but could make a Sunday one, please apply and note that in the application.

Feel free to send me a message via facebook or gmail (ircmullaney in both places) if you have a question.

Possible Second Performance Class

I’ve had a lot of applications so far for the performance class that I’m teaching at Upstairs Gallery in June and July. There is a possibility I could open up a second section for the class, but I would need some more applications to make a second class happen. The most likely time for the second class would be 11:30 to 2:30 on Sundays with a show on Sunday evening, probably around 9:30pm.

So if you are interested in taking the class but Saturday afternoons don’t work for you, and Sundays do, please apply and note that on the form.

Admit it. Then justify it with a philosophy.

I like this piece of advice for improv scenes from Will Hines.

Someone says you’re late for dinner —- admit it, then justify why you are late with a philosophy. Don’t blame it on traffic or your boss — that’s deflecting. Even if it’s a reasonable excuse, you are deflecting the gift. Don’t be surprised to learn you are late. Own it — it’s a gift. 

(via improvnonsense)

A: “You cheated on me!”

B: “I did. It’s the best way I know to test how strong our relationship is.”


A: “You praise your child too much.”

B: “You’re right. My child is stupid, so I praise him a lot because it would be too awful to be honest with him.”


A: “I saw you kill him.”

B: “I wanted you to see, so you would have no doubt what I’m capable of.”

A: “It had nothing to do with him?”

B: “It’s a more powerful statement when the victim is random.”