Last year when we were about to open our theater, we needed performers, a lot of performers. We had a slate of shows that we wanted to produce for the opening, but the company was just Angie McMahon and me. We decided to have auditions, but what were going to ask people to audition for? A show? A team? Or an ensemble?
In the past, I’ve been involved in theaters that have been team centric, most notably iO and the UCB Theater in New York. Team centric systems have their pros, but the more I’ve thought about them over the years, the more I’ve become dissatisfied with them. The main problem I have with them is that they are brittle. Teams break easily. People move away or get better gigs. People get on each other’s nerves and feel trapped where they are. Or they get so annoyed with one another that they begin to lobby the powers that be to cut people. If a team fails, then you need to figure out what to do with the performers. Often good ones are lost in the shuffle.
This past weekend, I was in New York for a visit. It was a fun whirlwind of events. I arrived on Friday in time to rehearse with my 3 on 3 team and play in one of the first round shows on Friday night. On Saturday, I taught a workshop and performed four times, once in a jam in the basement of a bar on seventh avenue, once at the Magnet Theater with Theory of Everything, and two more shows at the UCB–we made it to the finals of the 3 on 3 Tourney. Sunday, was all about my podcast.
Recently I was talking to a guy who I have been coaching. He is probably 19 or 20. We were walking into a music room for rehearsal and he said something along the lines of, “I wish I had taken more music classes,” as if it were too late for him. I’m sure I’m taking his words a bit out of context, but it made me laugh, because I couldn’t help thinking of John Ward.
John “Dr. Wimpy” Ward, was a very dedicated and passionate member of the New York improv scene over the last eight years. He took classes, performed and was a huge supporter of others. He often appeared as an agent with Improv Everywhere. He was a funny man and by all accounts a joy to play with. He started doing improv in his mid 50s. This last Sunday he passed away very unexpectedly.
Auditions for improv teams were held the weekend before he died at the UCB Theatre. It’s a collective freakout the community goes through every year as hundreds of UCB students compete for a handful of coveted spots on Harold teams. Continue reading “It’s not too late”
This week my guest is Billy Merritt who performs and teaches at the UCB Theatre in LA. We talk about premise based Harolds (Pirate Harolds, Robot Harolds and Ninja Harolds) and his character based performance classes where he has his students to create a single character over eight weeks. We also discuss character wheels, the cube edit and the hawk edit.
Episode #6 of the IRC Podcast has just been uploaded to the site. This week, I talk to Caitlin Tegart, a sketch writer and director who teaches for the UCB Theatre in NYC. We discuss how sketch writers can help themselves by not worrying about how good an idea is, that instead they need to simply get their ideas onto the page. We also discuss the process of taking a bunch sketches and turning them into a show.
Episode #4 of the IRC Podcast has just been uploaded. Kevin Hines is a performer and teacher at the UCB Theatre in NYC. We begin by talking about a couple of exercises he uses to get students reacting quicker and more realistically to twists and turns in their scenes. We next talk about The Macroscene, a show that came out of his last performance class. Finally, we discuss an exercise he uses to rehearse third beats for Harolds.
I thought this might be a semi-regular, fun entry for the blog. About a year and half ago, I started an improv wiki on my other site. It’s grown quite a bit with well over 1000 pages now for groups, performers, shows, concepts and more. If you are an improvisor, please create an account and start adding information that you know. At the moment, there is a lot of good information about the New York scene, but the Chicago and LA improv scenes are not as well documented.
The Chris Gethard Show is a talk show featuring some of my friends in New York. It runs once a month, Saturday at midnight at the UCB Theatre. I don’t know much about it, but it penetrated my brain this week when I noticed a link that Chris posted on facebook.
I next heard a little bit about it on the January 4th UCBTNY Podcast featuring John Frusciante and Will Hines. Anyway, I thought I would just post something to plug the show and share the video. It’s quite fun. Enjoy.