Magnet Theater Blog

Tuesday April 3, 2018, 12:49pm - by Promo Team

Object Work returns to the Magnet stage as this month’s Director Series show, starting Thursday, April 5th at 10:15 pm. We spoke with director Charlie Nicholson about the power and meaning of object-based improv.

How did you come up with the idea for an object-driven show?

Object Work came together at a moment in my life when I wanted to see the world differently. I was sad and lonely, looking to reconnect with comedy and theater in a meaningful way. I gathered together nine of the most wonderful, inspired people I knew, improvisors who made me feel excited about the possibilities of life and performance and art. We experimented together, developing an approach to playing that honored the many facets of an inanimate object and allowed us to turn anything that was thrown at us into a toy.

Always on my mind were the “performance object” discoveries I made in college, in Paul O’Connor’s stage shop building props for my and others’ plays, and Gabrielle Cody’s classroom, where we once spent an afternoon identifying the formal qualities of a stage full of chairs. I thought of my puppeteer friends Joe and Kali Therrien who welcomed me into their creative world at the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry. They continue their work in the streets and public parks of New York. And I thought of my parents, all four of them, who each demonstrated the strength of holding contradictory perspectives. These people taught me about the power of choosing an approach to the world that is intentionally unusual, to find pride in difference, and to celebrate the coexistence of many possible meanings. I made my best effort to carry this philosophy with me into Object Work rehearsals. I wanted performers to follow their individual instincts, to externalize their thought processes, and contrast with each other in their collaborations on stage. We found it to be very effective to limit our focus to a single object, as the object grounded and centered the group, forcing the group to physically share with each other, even as performances expanded to bizarre, dramatic, and unexpected territory.

By directing this show, I wanted to change the way I saw the world. I wanted to wake myself up, to cultivate a space for magic, to bring my imagination to life, and believe in bigger ideas. I wanted to push forward toward what was possible despite a powerful inclination to reduce my expectations. That was three years ago. Now it is 2018, and the world feels even heavier and harder. I feel more pressure to submit and accept the limitations of a disappointing reality. But every time I rehearse or perform with Object Work, I rediscover an immense sense of potential hiding in plain sight within our unmoving and seemingly inanimate world.

Your show features improv based on an actual (non-pantomimed) object. What sort of objects have been featured in the past? What’s the boldest choice someone has made with an object in previous shows?

In recounting the objects that we have been used for previous Object Work shows, I will also share some of the layered meanings of each object, IE how the object transformed and what it meant to us in the moment. Over the course of a 45 minute show, each object is reinterpreted in multiple ways, sometimes as a character, sometimes as the object that it literally is, sometimes as the physical embodiment of an emotion or idea.

I remember the Christmas lights that became an airport landing strip and the model school bus that changed performers into giants. There was panic when a string of sliver streamers malfunctioned as curtains in a the car wash, a sunflower stalk knocked a grand-slam straight out of the ballpark, and a bride tossed a bouquet of real pizza over her shoulder and into the audience. An abandoned cardboard box became a lonely neighborhood kid’s new house, lipstick was marked on foreheads as repentance ash, and a rain poncho returned from the grave as a ghost. There was even a show in which the performers used my body as the object, lifting me up to the ceiling and at one point using my hands and feet as telephone receivers to call each other.

If you were going to a desert island and could only bring three items you actually own, what would they be and why?

I would bring my deck of Fountain tarot cards so I could tell stories about the future, my favorite pair of magenta spandex shorts, to keep myself grounded in my past ( I have many good memories wearing the shorts), and a coil of rope, because one can accomplish so much with just a little piece of rope, especially on the desert island where I now live. Send help! Or at the very least, check out Object Work this Thursday at 10:15pm at the Magnet Theater!


Catch Object Work at 10:15 every Thursday in April!

Monday April 2, 2018, 3:30pm - by Magnet Theater

We are now accepting applications for The Spring 2018 Conservatory CircuitCircuit Teams are made up of Magnet Theater students, graduates of our training program, and veteran performers. We believe that in order to get better at improv, you need to do it.

 

The deadline to apply is 12:59 AMApril 16th. Teams will be announced April 20th. First rehearsals will be the weekend of the 27th.

 

Circuit shows will begin Friday, May 4th and run for 6 weeks, through June 8th. Shows will be 10PM in the Magnet Studio Theater at the Training Center.

 

To sign up for The Circuit, click this link to fill out the form: https://goo.gl/forms/7jcbIGCDgIFgC6zg1

 

Questions? Just email circuit@magnettheater.com !

 

 

Wednesday March 28, 2018, 11:00am - by Magnet Theater
Musical Megawatt - Musical Improv

We are thrilled to announce the newest additions to our Musical Megawatt lineup! Catch these new teams in action this Tuesday, April 3rd at 7, 8, 9 and 10pm.

Names in bold are new to Musical Megawatt. Names with an asterisk* are returning to Musical Megawatt. Names in italics are joining a preexisting team.

 

**NEW TEAM GRAND**
Maryann Alspaugh
David Barrera
Amy Charowsky
Collin Gossel
Amanda Mayer
Adam Payne
Matt Radlow

 

**NEW TEAM FUNK**
Chris Bell
Natasha Gleichmann
Alejandro La Rosa
Eitan Levine
Amelita Lijek
Blake Rogers
Rachel Zeolla

 

**NEW TEAM RAILROAD**
Matthew Frazier
Ben Fullon*
Audrey Mattaino
Brian Rodriguez
Mel Rubin
Tiffany Springle
Erin Wagner

 

In addition to these teams, Warm Blooded has three new members (in italics):

 

WARM BLOODED
Jon Bander
Woody Fu
Olivia Petzy
Roman Pietrs
Melissa Gordon*
Charlie Nicholson
Ali Reed
Saturday March 24, 2018, 9:00am - by Promo Team

Do you have your Passover plans locked down yet? Come spend the most miraculous Seder of your life with The Jewsical Seder with B’nai Magnet, Sunday March 25 at 6:15pm! We chatted with Russ Feder to get all the fun deets.

 

 Is there something special about the chosen people that make them excellent musical improvisers?

Jews sing all the time. Too much, in fact. It’s how we spent the time wandering the desert for forty years.

What should the goys know about this show? Is there any terminology they can brush up on?

The show should be pretty inclusive! That being said, if anyone hears a funny-sounding word they don’t understand, it probably means either “messy” or “confusing”.

Is Frank Spitznagel actually a rabbi?

While he’s not ordained, he’s genuinely worked with Itzhak Perlman, which is close enough for us.

Tell us about B’nai Magnet’s mission statement.

B’nai Magnet is a group of musical improvisors hoping to share and heighten the joy of the holiday season with the masses. If people convert to Judaism as a result of seeing their shows, too, it’s a nice bonus.

Would you advise the audience to eat kosher for 24 hours before attending?

Absolutely. Leave your leavened bread at the door, folks. It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Kick off Passover the right way with The Jewsical Seder with B’nai Magnet, Sunday, March 25 at 6:15!

 

Thursday March 22, 2018, 10:00am - by Promo Team

Welcome to Magnet’s “Getting To Know” series! We’re using our blog to highlight our fabulous performers and writers and we can’t wait for you to meet them. Want to see them all? Click here.

What’s your name?

Lauren Stripling.

Which team or show are you on?

Pyros, on Tuesdays at Musical Megawatt.

Where are you from?

Fort Worth, Texas, which is its own city and not just “part of Dallas,” I swear!

How did you get into improv/sketch comedy?

I’ve been a Story Pirate for about 9 years, and so have been surrounded by comedians from the Magnet forever. Then, about 4 and a half years ago I went to see a musical level 1 class show that my friend Louie Pearlman was big sibbing, and I thought it was absolute magic. I signed up for musical level 1 the next day.

How long have you been performing/writing?

The first musical I was ever in was when I was 3 and played Mrs. Duncan in an adaptation of “Sylvester and the Magic Pebble.” Even then I was playing moms. Toddler typecasting! I mostly was a music kid growing up, and played the harp at people’s events during middle and high school. Then I really got into theater in high school because we had a phenomenal teacher (shoutout to Mr. Moore) who would do this sort of experimental theater stuff with us with a lot of movement and devising.

Who in all the world would be your ideal scene or writing partner?

Jemaine Clement from Flight of the Conchords.

Who would you most like to impersonate or write for?

I love doing accents. I’d love to do a Downton Abbey Maggie Smith or a show where Amélie is old but still an ingenue and nobody indulges her any more.

What makes you laugh the hardest?

When highbrow and lowbrow get smashed together. Absurdism. I love seeing a genius fall on their face.

Describe the soundtrack to your life!

Currently listening to Janelle Monáe while filling this out, Punch Brothers and Beck also currently on high rotation. Also, the Judge John Hodgman podcast.

What’s something you’d ask when meeting someone for the first time?

What book they’re currently reading.

Where can we find you on a Saturday night?

Doing an escape room or having a board game and wine party.

If you were in a circus, what job would you want?

Fire-breathing lion tamer!
Tuesday March 20, 2018, 10:00am - by Promo Team

What’s the best kind of birthday party? Why, a comedy birthday party of course! Jarret Berenstein is back with another birthday-themed variety show, The Fine Thirty-Nine, on Sunday March 25 at 9pm. Will there be sketch? Yes ma’am. Will there be stand up? You betcha. Will there be a party? Most def! Jarret spills the birthday beans below.

 Tell us about your show!

The Fine Thirty Nine is a birthday comedy show! It’s a combination of standup, sketches, special guests, and a variety of weird surprises. Plus there’s free beer!

This is the follow-up to last year’s show, The Great Thirty-Eight. Is it all new stuff, or are you up to your same old tricks?

All new stuff! I borrow a little from the format of The Great Thirty-Eight, but all the material in this show will be brand new, plus there are two standups (Matt Koff and Selena Coppock) who weren’t at the show last year and who are both super dope.

Do you anticipate doing more of these birthday shows? What titles do you have lined up?

I’d love to keep the tradition going if I can. Maybe “Hey shorty, it’s Forty” and “The Fun Forty One”? I’ll need to run those through the committee though.

What are you most excited for the audience to see? 

I wrote a book last year called The Kellyanne Conway Technique and one of the reviews on Amazon was so insane that I wrote a whole thing about it. There’s also gonna be an interview with a special guest that I think people are gonna love.

According to the poster, your show is made up of sketch, stand up, and a party. What’s the best party you’ve ever been to?

One time I went to a bar with some friends and this random woman was giving everybody free food and booze and forcing people to dance and do little contests. Turns out the woman was the owner and the bar was closing for good so she was just giving everything away. It was a real blowout, strangers were dancing and eating together, tons of fun, and then the next day the place was completely gone. I asked some dude where the bar went, and he was like “What? That bar burned down twenty years ago!” (That last part was a joke, but everything else was true.) Hope to see you all at the show!

Watch Jarret party on at The Fine Thirty-Nine, Sunday March 25 at 9:00pm at Magnet!

Monday March 19, 2018, 2:51pm - by Magnet Theater

Magnet Theater is pleased to announce the new teams and additions for the Spring 2018 season of Megawatt, debuting this Wednesday, March 21st, at 7, 8, 9  and 10:15 pm. We hope to see you there!

Names in bold are new to Megawatt. Names with an asterisk* are returning to Megawatt. Names in italics are joining a preexisting team.

NEW TEAM MUENSTER

Peter Appleby*
Howard Finkelstein*
Chloe Metzger*
Sarah Poirier*
Billy Soco*
Melissa Ulloa
Peter Vale
Jeff Wucher

 

NEW TEAM MANCHEGO

Janelle Bentley
Maggie Bower
Spencer Campbell*
Perri Gross
Alex Kornfeld
Henry Russell Bergstein
Michael Stevens
Jenny Stokka

 

New members have also been added to several existing teams:

BODYWORK

Evan Forde Barden
Kristina Grosspietsch
Michael Lutton
Charlie Nicholson
Dmitry Shein
Collin Batten
Liz Migliaccio
Jamaal Sedayao*

 

SEXY BABY

Katy Berry
Christina Dabney
Tim Dufrisne
Eleanor Lewis
Rob Penty
Fred Urfer
Derrence Washington
Kyle Gordon
Erin Marie Nebel

 

DRAMA

Alex Braslavsky
Jarreau Carrillo
Hillary Dale
Princess Gibbs
Amanda Rothman
Keith Rubin
Danielle Wessler
Jessica Taylor

 

SCOUT

Matt Abedi
Kim Brown
Molly Kiernan
Devin O’Neill
Xavier Padin
Adam Pasulka
Dede Tabak
Tom Sanchez
Friday March 9, 2018, 2:47pm - by Promo Team

Did you catch (and love) Moonlight last month? Don’t be sad to see it go, because it’s not gone—it’s evolved into Gassed Up with Good At Sports and it’s on every Saturday at 10:30 pm! Moonlight director, John Ross, is here fill you in.

How has this group evolved since coming together for the Director Series show Moonlight?

Same group new night and time. The biggest change is now I get to play with the team!

What’s your favorite memory from Moonlight’s Director Series run?

Easily every time the audience and actors broke because the scripted line was a perfect response to the improvised line. The room practically explodes and it’s the best feeling for everyone.

Is it comforting to ditch the gravid water format? Or more challenging?

A little bit of both to be honest. We were just getting used to having to cold read scripts, so it’s a bit of an adjustment to go back to pure improv. That being said, we are having fun just playing with each other, and not having to worry about printing scripts each week, haha.

Tell us more about the improv form you’re performing. Why did you choose this form?

Right now we are rotating through some forms, monologue deconstruction, Spokane, and Montage. We like these 3 because they all give us a lot of freedom given that the team is so big (10 people total). We also want to showcase minority talent and play-styles that don’t often get a main stage opportunity. However, we do plan on doing at least 1 edition of Gassed up in the Moonlight form though.

Out of all of the members of Good at Sports, who’s the best at sports?

This is a very good question. We all are. We’re a group of olympians each specializing in a different event. Like a justice league of comedy and athleticism. We’ve got a breakdown and everything:
Saidah – Zatanna
Lanee’ – Wonder Woman
Essence – Green Lantern
Erica – The Flash (Wally West)
Alexis – Martian Manhunter
Dahlia – Dr. Fate
Nat – Atom
Michael – Green Arrow
John – Superman
Randy – Batman

Feed your car and feed your mind with Gassed Up with Good At Sports, every Saturday at 10:30!

Thursday March 8, 2018, 10:00am - by Promo Team

Welcome to Magnet’s “Getting To Know” series! We’re using our blog to highlight our fabulous performers and writers and we can’t wait for you to meet them. Want to see them all? Click here.

What’s your name?

Ingrid Ostby.

Which team or show are you on?

I perform every Wednesday at Megawatt with my beloved team, Tallulah.

Where are you from?

Flint, Michigan. (Yes, Michael Moore and bad water. I know.)

How did you get into improv/sketch comedy?

One day in a college computer class, out of curiosity, I looked up how Tina Fey and Amy Poehler got their start. I had grown up watching SNL and embarrassing my friends by turning it on at college parties, and I had a crush on Jimmy Fallon that I suspect was just a desire to do exactly what he did. Fey and Poehler started out doing improv in Chicago, so I looked up what clubs (like extracurriculars, not bars) at my alma matter, Michigan State, focused on doing improv. There was only one, and the picture made it look extremely embarrassing (I think they wore … costumes …?). It was also defunct. So I looked into Second City approximately 8,000 times and, once I graduated, I moved to Chicago to do comedy.

How long have you been performing/writing?

I’ve been performing improv and sketch for [coughing to disguise words] over eleven years.

Who in all the world would be your ideal scene or writing partner?

My ideal improv scene partner would be Jet Eveleth of the Reckoning, because she was one of my mentors in Chicago years ago and I think she is one of the finest improvisers out there. My ideal writing partner is my friend Meghan from back in Chicago. She’s now in social work, but she is the best human I know of and we used to write shows together, and it was the time of our lives. These aren’t famous people, so if you are thirsting for those, I would say 1. Angela Lansbury and 2. Bob Newhart or John Mulaney.

Who would you most like to impersonate or write for?

As far as who I’d most like to impersonate, my dream would be for Lady Gaga to forever stay relevant because she has a very specific, crackly speaking voice and accent I find extremely pleasant to listen to and it’s fun to attempt to do. My favorite person to write for so far in life has been my pal Dennis Pacheco. He’s a character as it is and a great actor and plays great weirdos and great regular dudes. Plus he’s great at table reads, which is an extremely undervalued skillset.

What makes you laugh the hardest?

This video.

Describe the soundtrack to your life!

It would for sure have some garage-y lo-fi female-led pop-y stuff in there. It would probably have some Jon Brion, too. Maybe some Fiona Apple sprinkled in for good measure. Fabolous would probably make an appearance. But I dunno, depends on how I’m feeling. Maybe it’ll all be Gambino.

What’s something you’d ask when meeting someone for the first time?

I like knowing what people do outside of work hours. I think that says a lot about a person. But “Hey what do you do when you get out of work?” is pretty weird to ask off the bat, so I’d probably just ask them their name and how they know Sandra who’s graciously hosting us this evening.

Where can we find you on a Saturday night?

Saturday is my get-shit-done day. I have the most energy on Saturdays. It’s the best day!!! That said, I’m a woman over 30 who is tired of socializing every single night of the week, so ideally I’d be with a very small group in a cozy, quiet-ish place talking a lot about nothing. Otherwise I’ll just be on my couch or at a movie.

If you were a super villain, what would your schtick be?

If I were a super villain, I’d force all the Avengers to retire because they’ve been given far too much screen time.

 

Tuesday March 6, 2018, 3:57pm - by Promo Team

MOXIE opens Monday March 12th! For the next three Mondays at 9:00 at the Magnet, see original sketch shows developed by teams formed through Moxie, the female-identifying, non-binary, and trans sketch lab! Congratulations to the participants and directors!

Monday March 12th
The Mad Donnas and Clit Eastwood

Monday March 19th
Ryan Gosling’s Spank Bank and The Mad Donnas

Monday March 26th
Clit Eastwood and Ryan Gosling’s Spank Bank

 

The Mad Donnas
Directors: Alex Stark, Liz Haag, Megan Gray

Writers: Ruthie Dreyer, Kay Mollica, Claire Matson, Beth Heller, Morgan Sobel & Kate de Longpre’, Julia Schroeder, Jenn Seide

Performers: Angelica Florio, Morgan Sobel, Alina Konon, Vassileia Kazee, Talia Kwartler, Emily Heider, Jamie Genoa, Kerri Kenny, Alex Schulte, Laura Fabius, Kay Mollica, Margaret Taormina, Claire Matson, Beth Heller, Susan Burns, Julia Schroeder, Dorrie Jankowski, Jenn Seide, Ruthie Dreyer, Shevone Adams

 

Clit Eastwood
Directors: Amanda Xeller, Chloe Koser, Gina Cucci

Writers: Deborah Lohse, Hailey McAfee, Jen Shamro, Jenice Matias, JoAnn DeLuna, Kelli Argott, Kristina Stasi, Laura Brehm

Performers: Ande Cousins, Carly Hampton, CJ Archuleta, Deborah Lohse, Elaine Bledsoe, Hailey McAfee, Jeffrey Elizabeth Copeland, Jen Shamro, Jenice Matias, JoAnn DeLuna, Kelli Argott, Kristina Stasi, Laura Brehm, Paige Smith-Hogan, Rebecca Weiser

 

Ryan Gosling’s Spank Bank
Directors: Virginia Dickens, Jackie Skinner, Aimee Lutkin

Writers: Alison Badrous, Emily Dalton, Becky Davidson, Mallory McAfee, Meredith Spencer, Sasha Stewart, Alison Williams

Performers: Kendra Augustin, Alison Badrous, Hannah Bell, Alyssa Briddes, Magda Cychowski, Emily Dalton, Becky Davidson, Hannah Goldman, Lesley Hennen, Tea Ho, Heather Johnson, Nicole Matarese, Mallory McAfee, Kelsey Rodriguez, Hannah Sheehan, Meredith Spencer, Jasmin Stanley, Sasha Stewart, Nina Wanat, Joy Weeeng