Posts Tagged ‘Director’s Series’
Do you love sitcoms? Or do you love improv? Are you tired of trying to choose between the two greatest loves of your life? Good news–the Moonlight Director’s Series is here to help! We asked director Johnathan Ross to enlighten us on the show.
This show combines improvisers with people on-book with sitcom scripts. Can you explain how the show works for those who have never seen this style of improv before?
The show is a variation on the Gravid Water form. Gravid Water takes teams and pairs fully improvising players with actors/players on a script. Sometimes the actors are off book (doing the scripts completely from memory) and other times they are on book (holding the script in hand). Script readers have some control over how they deliver a line or when they can pause or break up a line, but the improvisor never knows what’s going to be said next (unless they’ve memorized the script too, but where’s the fun in that?) Our scripts will all be from sitcoms from the 50s to the 90s.
Where did the name of the show come from?
The name comes from the music video for the Jay-Z song Moonlight, which was inspired by the closing events of the 2017 Academy Awards.
How did you come up with the idea to blend sitcoms and improv?
Like the music video of the same name I wanted to take the idea of taking well known sitcoms and showing people of color in similar roles. However because of the nature of the form we get to be even more creative within these sitcom worlds as only one person is bound to a script.
Who’s in the show and did you choose performers based on their level of sitcom fandom?
Oh we have a wonderful cast. Our full roster:
- Laneé Shawntel Sanders
- Essence Stewart
- Alexis Lambright
- Saidah Dunston
- Erica Johnson
- Dahlia Ramsay
- Rama Orleans-Lindsay
- Randy McKay
- Michael Stevens
- Nat Trammell
And everyone was selected solely on their sitcom fandom and nothing else haha. Here are a few of our favorites: Parks & Rec, Arrested Development, Party Down, Living Single, Family Matter, Fresh Prince, Fraiser, and Community.
What are some of the sitcom scripts you may be using?
You’ll be able to find everything from Leave it to Beaver and I Love Lucy to Friends and Seinfeld! Maybe some Growing Pains, Who’s the Boss, Three’s Company, even the Facts of Life! We’re spanning the decades from the 50s to the 90s. One thing I will add is that the audience will have a hand in picking the scripts for each show!
Will there be a laugh track?
Maybe some “woo” tracks, but this show will be filmed in front of a live studio audience ;).
Be on- or off-book for Moonlight, February 1, 8, 15, & 21 at 10:00 at Magnet!
Check it out! Block Party debuts next Thursday and the fine folks at Broadway World have given it a little write up, which we just love. You’re not gonna want to miss this killer night. Not only is it the debut of Block Party (The Boss, Junior Varsity, The Wrath, Ariana Grande), but it’s also the first night of the April Directors Series: Object Work. Plus, your old friend INSPIRADO caps off the whole Thursday Night Out. WHOA BABY. Make your reservations now!!
Spartan improviser, Executive actor, and director of Object Work, CHARLIE NICHOLSON, sits down to discuss his upcoming Directors Series, harnessing risk on stage, and RuPaul’s Drag Race. Throughout the episode, Charlie and host Louis Kornfeld find a great deal of common ground as they discuss things like ambiguity on stage, forgetting one’s self in a show, and how to approach leading an ensemble. It’s a beautiful episode with beautiful people and how about that pic, right??
To begin, Charlie opens up about his nerves regarding each show and how he channels them into preparation. He tells us why he loves The Medusa and how he seeks to inject something different into each show the performs. Louis latches onto the topic of small moments and they discover their mutual reverence for well-placed ambiguity. Then, Louis offers that works of art may serve as outcrops of ourselves which help us frame ambiguous moments. How philosophical.
Moving from the abstract to the human, Louis asks Charlie about his style as an improviser and they talk about Charlies love for risk-taking on stage. They also touch on Charlie’s favorite thing to experience in a scene partner. Louis makes a puzzle analogy, folks! Charlie talks about forgetting himself amidst a show and the conjuring of magic on stage. What does is mean to play “out of control?” Charlie and Louis offer up two competing definitions and discuss each. Plus, learn how Charlie’s natural curiosity fuels his performance and find out his recommended reading for Louis.
With its upcoming run looming, Charlie passionately shares with us his thoughts on April’s Directors Series, Object Work, which came to him in a dream. He espouses his love for extending ourselves beyond our bodies and bringing life to the lifeless. Additionally, Charlie shares how he approaches directing a group of experienced performers he so adamantly admires and he and Louis go on to discuss different learning and teaching styles. To wrap up the episode, Charlie shares some of his favorite books and media, and of course, he and Louis discuss RuPauls Drag Race.
Please, don’t forget to go see Object Work this April. Thursdays at 10pm.
*Charlie wants us to note that, at time of recording, he goofed on the authors name of Silently and Very Fast. He said “Catherynne Valero” but what he meant was “Catherynne Valente.”
The Director Series is a monthly improv installation wherein a director picks a new form and sets it on a new cast. This month, Michael Lutton is directing “One Hit Wonder”. We chatted with Michael via email to discuss the form.
1. What is ‘One Hit Wonder’?
One-Hit Wonder is a new form that Jon Bander and I came up with. It’s a narrative that follows the story of a band: how it was created, how the group became famous with their number-one hit, the band’s downfall and where the band members are now. I wanted to direct it because I think it has a lot of fun possibilities. Everyone is familiar with “Behind the Music” and biopics about recording artists, so there is a lot to play with, and with that simple story arc the improvisers will have a lot of room to find patterns and develop characters.
2. How does this differ from normal Musical Improv?
This form uses documentary-style interviews to bookend scenes, and since the story arc is one that is already familiar, the cast members are free to focus more on character dynamics.
3. What is your favorite one hit wonder?
The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia by Vicki Lawrence is one of the best story songs of all time, and I will fight anyone who says different. Physically fight them.
4. What is the future of musical improv?
Musical improv is usually narrative, which is a lot of fun but also very challenging. Moving ahead, I think groups will find new ways to tell stories. Our musical program is relatively new and still growing, but we a have a few veteran groups that are doing interesting things with form and genre, and starting to test the limits of what you can do with a musical. I’m very excited to see what happens next!
‘One Hit Wonder’ premiers Thursday, January 2nd at 9pm and continues Thursdays at 9pm in January!
During November, Alex Marino directs the latest installment of The Director’s Series, The Wake. Every Thursday night at 9pm, The Wake takes you on an adventure inspired by an obituary. I interviewed Alex via email to discuss The Wake and his inspiration behind the form.
What is The Wake and why did you choose this form?
The wake is a form I started thinking about when i was taking classes in LA. I was feeling kinda frustrated because we had been working on the invocation, which I found really interesting, but a lot of my classmates were really dismissivethey’d roll their eyes if they didn’t think the suggestion was cool, they seemed a little bit mocking of improv itself. It was LA and they were just too cool for it. So I started trying to think of a way to approach the invocation that would force performers to at least have a little bit of respect for the suggestion and I figured “what if you had to do an invocation of a person who had just died in a room full of people who loved them.” So it kinda stayed in my head gestating for a while. Then when Magnet first opened I was approached by a practice group, it was one of the first groups I’d coached in New York, and that was Louis Kornfeld, Megan Gray, Charlie Whitcroft, Jon Bander, Corey Grimes, and Kelly Buttermore. And after working with them for a little bit I asked if they’d like to experiment with this form I’d been thinking about and they were totally game. What we arrived at was a modified invocation of someone in that day’s obituaries, inviting them to come into the theater and share their story before they go. I heard, and this may be apocryphal, that the practice of holding wakes came from a period in Ireland where they disinterred a lot of old graves and found scratch marks on the inside of the coffins. They realized that something like 1 in 10 people were being buried alive. So they decided to leave the dead out in for a period of time after they passed to give them one last chance to wake up. So the Wake seemed fitting as a name for the form. I kinda liked the notion that this show is one last chance for the dead to come back.
I chose it for this Director’s Series because it had been a while since I’d seen it done and I wanted to work with the original cast again. A couple years ago I taught a class in The Wake, and those bozos have been asking me when they were gonna get to do it again, so I thought I’d invite them along too.
What do you find funny?
All kinds of stuff. Smart stuff, dumb stuff. Deep stuff, light stuff. Lots of things are funny. To me, the funniest thing to think about is that we’re all just a huge biological accident that learned how to wear clothes and comb its hair. That shit is hilarious to me. We’re a mostly bald, mostly flimsy, slow moving animal, with small, dull teeth and worthless claws. We can barely climb, we can’t fly, or hold our breath very long. We have bad backs and lethal allergies to peanuts and shellfishbut not all of us, so you don’t even know if someone is allergic until they just almost die. We eat and drink through the same hole we use to breathe and speak, and somehow we’ve survived long enough to figure out space travel, novelty t-shirts, iPhones and art that goes on your fingernails. It’s incredibly funny to me just how we spend our time.
Do you find death funny?
Death is not funny, no, but everything around death is funnier because of it. Death is the ultimate straight man. I think to have laughter there needs to be a break in tension, which means there needs to be tension to begin with. The more the tension and the bigger the break, the more satisfying the laugh. The uneasiness people feel when they’re faced with death is a great primer for laughter, and that kind of laughter makes it easier to live with death.
What is the future of improv?
I dunno. At some point enough people are going to complain loudly and correctly enough about not getting properly recognized and compensated for content they improvise for commercials and movies so probably a union will come out of that. And you’ll see “additional content improvised by” in the credits of films which will be good, but things will be weird or maybe they wont. Maybe the improviser union will be chill. Eventually there will be an improvised show that is so undeniably good that it will get a run on Broadway. Eventually there will be an improvised show that wins a Tony. Some people will be upset by that or maybe they wont. Maybe Broadway will have relaxed a bit by then. Someone is going to bring a true and honest, disinterested study of improvisation with all its techniques, history, and various applications to the university level, build a curriculum around it, and just like performance studies and jazz you’ll be able to get a college degree in improvisation. I would like to think that degree in improv would be worth more than getting a degree in performance studies or jazz, but it probably won’t be and after four years, it definitely won’t make anyone a better improviser than performing in every black box and bar that will let you but, no matter how much actual experience you may have in the field, you’ll need to have a degree in improv to be able to teach improv at the university level So that will be a nice little scam.
The Wake plays every Thursday in November at 9pm. Make Reservations Here!
The Director Series, a 4-week series of performances wherein a Director selects a cast and presents a different form, is presenting it’s GREATEST HITS! This month, your favorite shows are coming back! The Monoscene (10/11), The Movie (10/18) and Evente (10/25) will make appearances with completely different casts during the month of October!
“The Greatest Hits” starts this week with The Monoscene directed by Alan Fessenden! The Monoscene is an improvised form that takes place entirely in one location with no edits of any kind. Like an improvised one act play we get to see the different stories and relationships that inhabit a single location.
Featuring: Megan Gray, Sean Taylor, Quinton Lodder, Maddy Mako, Emily Shapiro, Angela Demanti, Jason Scott Quinn and Matt J. Weir.
The latest installment of The Director’s Series, directed by Rick Andrews, opened last Thursday to a loving Magnet audience! The Weave, the 7th installment of The Director’s Series, is a “rule-less” form that encourages organic improvisation in two parts. The cast did a wonderful job of incorporating the suggestion into a string of organically found scenes.
The show started with a trio taking on the mythical tales of “Ernesto”, a mysterious wise old man. It then transformed into a physical game, in which two brute doctor’s are trying to save a man’s life. The scene continues until they were transfused into an entirely different set of circumstances from the other trio. The six players found themselves onstage, slowly dying from a gas leak. This quickly became a scene about a love triangle which transformed into Olympic Gold Medal winners.
The show continued, weaving (sorry) in and out of different scenes, only to call back what was necessary. It ended, like all shows should end, with a backflip.
The Weave continues this Thursday at 10pm at The Magnet Theater, and continues every thursday at 10pm for the month of August. Make sure to catch a performance before it’s took late!
No screenplay. No budget. Yet it’s a film worthy of an oscar nomination.
But if you’re not there you’ll never get a chance to see it ever again. On Thursday Feb. 23rd at 10pm, The Movie will have it’s last show as part of the new ‘Director Series’ at The Magnet Theater. A stacked team of seasoned Magnet performers fill the stage to create a filmic masterpiece. Spielberg can suck it.
Directed by Ed Herbstman, this improvised movie is better and cheaper than anything out right now and it’s actually in 3-D for real! Make a reservation, turn your cell phones off and please don’t talk back at the screen. Because there is no screen. They are real people. Why is this so hard for you to understand?
Growing up it was a bi-monthly event in my family. We’d drive 45 minutes to the nearest movie theater, go out for Chinese Food and then go see something. Something big. But starting this Thursday my bi-monthly childhood treat will become a weekly one…
“The Movie” is coming to Magnet Theater! This improvised long form will leave you a bit breathless. It’s an entire improvised film, complete with cuts, pans, zooms, helicopter shots, and maybe even some prohibitively expensive CGI. And if we’re lucky, we may get some Chinese Food before (but probably not).
It might be a heart-warming coming of age picture, or a tear-jerking sports hero battling cancer sort of thing. Or maybe a sci-fi horror ‘stuck on a planet battling a monster (but the real monster is their own inner demon)’ sort of movie. Maybe a combo of all three. Doesn’t matter though. I’ll be there.
“The Movie” is the first installment of The Directors Series, a 4-week series of performances wherein a Director selects a cast and presents a different form. This month Ed Herbstman is directing Fiona Mallek, Jamie Rivera, Louis Kornfeld, Peter McNerney, Chet Siegel, Nick Kanellis, Christian Palluck, Woody Fu, Elana Fishbein and Alex Marino. Every Thursday at 10pm in February!
Oh, and it’s part of Thursday Night Out – you get to see the whole night of shows for one $7 ticket.