Hump Night opens January 9th

January 9th is opening night of Hump Night, a new comedy night at Strawdog Theatre. It’s an ecclectic evening in three acts:

  • 7:30 – The Improv Hour, featuring indie improv teams and student teams
  • 8:30 – The Variety Hour, featuring music, standup, sketch, storytelling and improv
  • 9:45 – Mullaney Chain, an improv show featuring Chicago finest improvisers

Opening night line up includes:

  • Other People’s Children, Dinosaur & McGarnakle in the improv hour
  • Lady Love, The Shock Ts, Candy Lawrence, Caitlin Bergh & Chad Briggs during the variety hour
  • And Dina Facklis as the first guest improviser in Mullaney Chain

WHERE: Strawdog Theatre’s Hugen Hall, 3829 N Broadway 2nd Floor, Chicago
WHEN: Wednesdays 7:30 – 10:30

Links:

humpnightposter

Feedback from recent students

Here is some of the feedback I got from my last Improv Performance Workshop. Robert Carter has been my assistant for the last couple of classes, so some of the notes refer to him as well.

Here is some of the feedback I got from my last Improv Performance Workshop. Robert Carter has been my assistant for the last couple of classes, so some of the notes refer to him as well.

“My favorite thing about the class was that it was focused on ‘doing.’ We spent a lot of time up on our feet, doing scenes and running pieces. In this class I felt like you and Robert struck just the right balance between sharing your point of view as teachers with the class and then allowing us to experience putting your lessons into practice.” –John Sexton

“What did I like? Really, just about everything. I like that we spent most of our time on our feet ‘doing.’ And that exercises seemed to be pulled from a broad spectrum of improv and acting disciplines. And that our notes, whether group or individual, were always reasonable and applicable. And that you and Robert both have (and impart) a real passion for the craft. In short, I derived more from 8 weeks with Kevin Mullaney than I did from 40 weeks at Some Unnamed Chicago Improv Institution.” -Mathew Fenton

“It was a great experience, and I learned so much from you, Robert and everyone else. A lot of the exercises we worked on have really helped inform my process, both as a performer and as a coach; in particular, I think the explanation of how to form a situation at the beginning of a scene let me learn new ways to approach setups and initiations. In addition, the acknowledgement/nodding exercise helped give me new ways to support scenes I didn’t initiate. This has been especially useful for me.” -Phil Caron

“My favorite part of the class was that each week felt like a response to the previous week/most recent show, rather than like it was simply the slave to a rigid preordained curriculum. I loved that our strengths and weaknesses (as both individuals and as a class) were not only being identified and pointed out, but then actually worked on, which is an experience I’ve never had in an improv class before. I genuinely feel like there were concepts that were huge weaknesses for me at the beginning of the class that made legitimate progress towards becoming strengths by the end of it, as opposed to just being vague conceptions of things I should be conscious of in the future, which is what has often happened in other classes I’ve taken.

“Also, I think it’s important to note that this class was really fun. Everyone was really supportive, and I feel like each person’s unique style was celebrated in such a way that it led everyone to do better scenework than they might have done otherwise. I feel like the class—occasionally, at least—brought out the best in me, and that definitely was also one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much (and would love to do it again!).” -Kyle Reinhard

I am offering two more improv performance classes for the new year. The January class on Tuesday nights is sold out, but there is still room in the Monday night class starting in February.

Improvising From the Gut – Weekend Intensive

In this two day intensive class, you will learn how to begin scenes by observing and connecting with your scene partners and trusting your gut. By owning your reactions and provoking reactions in your scene partner, you will build exciting, unpredictable and fun scenes with strong emotional games.

In this two day intensive class, you will learn how to begin scenes by observing and connecting with your scene partners and trusting your gut. By owning your reactions and provoking reactions in your scene partner, you will build exciting, unpredictable and fun scenes with strong emotional games.

Kevin Mullaney
Kevin Mullaney

When is the class?

Class meets Saturday January 19th and Sunday January 20th, noon-4pm

Where is the class?

Upstairs Gallery
5219 North Clark Street
Third Floor
Chicago, IL 60640

How much will the class cost?

$65

Applications for this are closed.

Who is Kevin Mullaney?

Kevin Mullaney is the current Artistic Director of the Chicago Improv Festival. He 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 has acted in recent productions by WildClaw Theatre, Caffeine Theatre and Will Act For Food. Find out more about Kevin Mullaney here.

Just try nodding yes

I came across an extremely simple idea to help improvisers who have trouble with agreement, which is just about everybody. Just nod your head yes when you are listening to your scene partner. I tried it in a class recently and it works quite well. You don’t have to think specifically about yes anding what they say. Just nod yes a couple of times, especially right before you speak. You’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to agree to what they’ve initiated.

I thought of trying this because of two things. First, I had heard of a study that asked some people to nod yes while they listened to an editorial. Afterwards, they were more inclined to say they agreed with the editorial than people who were encouraged to shake their head no while listening. The difference was rather large, not just a statistical blip. It suggests that nodding your head up and down causes something in your subconscious to make your conscious thoughts more agreeable. Second, I watched the video of a show that my class had performed. I was looking for things we could work on for the next class. In the first moment of the first scene, before anyone started talking, one of the students was shaking his head no… even before he heard the initiation of his scene partner. Watching that made me think of that study. And that made me think, “I’m going to make my students nod yes constantly and see what happens.”

And you know what? It worked. They actually were much more agreeable. I suppose that doesn’t really prove anything. This was directly after I gave them several notes about how they weren’t agreeing very well in their show. So perhaps it was simply a physical reminder to be more agreeable, but it sure seemed to work.

There were a few students who struggled with it. They didn’t like nodding. Perhaps it felt a little silly or artificial. But if they really tried nodding, they had no problem agreeing.

The day after the class Robert, my assistant teacher, pointed out that he thinks that more than a couple of great of improvisers do this unconsciously and he gave a couple examples. I think he’s right, and I’m going to do it regularly too until it becomes an unconscious reflex for me.

Monday Night Improv Performance Class with 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.

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.

Kevin Mullaney
Kevin Mullaney

Best of all, the class includes three performances at Strawdog Theatre (in Hugen Hall). 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!

Click to Apply

Continue reading “Monday Night Improv Performance Class with Kevin Mullaney”

Performance Class Filling Up Fast

The Improv Performance Class that I’m going to start teaching in January has already gotten a lot of applications. I’ve decided to close applications early so that students have plenty of time to plan for their January and February. I’m not sure what day I will cut off applications, but it will be soon. So if you wanted to apply, fill out the application as soon as possible.

I hope to announce other classes soon. Sign up for my newsletter, if you’d like information on future classes.

[SOLD OUT] Tuesday Night Improv Performance Class with 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.

This class is full. You can still get on the waiting list if you fill out the application form. I’ve also opened up a second class on Monday nights which starts in February.

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.

Kevin Mullaney
Kevin Mullaney

Best of all, the class includes four performances at Strawdog Theatre (in Hugen Hall). 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!

Click to Apply

Continue reading “[SOLD OUT] Tuesday Night Improv Performance Class with Kevin Mullaney”

New Class: Improv for Black Boxers

Please help me spread the word. I’ll be teaching a special class for Black Box Acting Studio:

This is for students who have completed three levels over at Black Box. We will be using versions of exercises from the acting program and applying them to improvised scenes, as well as pulling in exercises from my years of experience teaching Improvising from the Gut workshops.

This should be a fun playful experience which should make you a better improvisor and perhaps a better actor too: Perfect for the black box actor who wants to try improv or the improvisor who wants to apply their black box skills to improv.

The class will be held on Tuesday nights Nov 6 – Dec 11, 6-9pm at the Den Theater at 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave. No class week of Thanksgiving.

NaSkeWriMo Chicago

If you are in Chicago and you are participating in National Sketch Writing Month, you are invited to come to an open mic/sketch reading party on October 7th. Bring copies of your favorite sketches you wrote for this year’s NaSkeWriMo and we will read it together. 

NaSkeWriMo Chicago Afterword
@Upstairs Gallery
Sunday, October 7th, 7:30pm
FREE (suggested donation $5)
BYOB & BYO(S)ketches 

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