Posts Tagged ‘theater’

Wednesday September 13, 2017, 7:00am - by evan barden

Matt Koff is a comedian, recovering improviser, and Emmy-award winning writer for his work on The Daily Show. As one of the first Magnet students, Matt brings his comedy back to the theater for a stand-up comedy series. “Matt Koff & Friend” features a half hour of comedy from Koff himself, as well as another half hour from a comedian of his choice.

How long have you been performing stand-up comedy?

For about 7 years now. I had been doing sketch and improv for about 5 years prior to that. I’m old. Older than the Tennessee Valley herself, some might say.

How would you compare the NYC stand-up scene from when you first started to now?

When I started there seemed to be a lot of crazy people at open mics. I do fewer mics now but the ones I go to don’t seem to have people who’ve just wandered in from Times Square talking about how they’d like to rape the Statue of Liberty or whatever.
As far as I can tell it hasn’t really changed. I’ve changed a little bit. In the beginning I was one of the scared newbies at mics who just hoped my 4 minutes of jokes worked. Now I’m less scared and not a newbie. I’m old. So old. Although trying out a new joke will always make me nervous. One day I hope to stop caring, so I can finally start talking about my true passion: sexually assaulting large statues.

Can you tell us about a time that you “bombed” on stage?

Yes. I can tell you about several times. But the worst I’ve ever bombed is when I was at The Comedy Store in LA. It was my first and so far only time performing there, I went up at like 1:30am and there was just silence. I swear I could hear the ghost of David Letterman weeping.

When did you start taking classes at Magnet Theater? Did you learn anything from the classes that you still use in your work today?

I started taking classes here when it first opened. Before that I’d been studying with Armando when he taught classes independently. That’s right, PRE-Magnet. Which makes me a pretty cool guy.
One thing I learned that I still use today, mainly in writing, is to patiently explore an idea and don’t be afraid of letting it form organically. Armando also stressed the importance of being a philosopher and constantly asking why things are the way they are in every day life, which is hugely important in every form of comedy, especially stand-up.

What does stand-up comedy bring to you that improv does not?

With stand-up, you don’t have to wait for anyone. You can go and do 3 sets a night and develop as fast as you want to develop. It also gives you an opportunity to hone and workshop an act again and again which I find really fulfilling.
But every so often I will do improv with the other Daily Show writers, and I find that fun in a completely different way, because obviously there’s no real plan and you don’t know what’s going to happen next.
In hindsight, I think I have more fun doing improv. But I didn’t start doing comedy to have “fun.” I did it to suffer. And for the free drink tickets. 😉

Who would be your ideal guest to perform the 2nd half hour on Matt Koff & Friend?

Adam Wade. And I was lucky enough to get him!

How do you like performing stand-up in an improv theater setting?

I like it a lot. The audiences are really smart, and there are very few drunk bachelorette parties in the audience who interrupt my set and laugh at the wrong parts of the joke. Quiet, ladies! “So I just had arm surgery” is not a punchline!

Come see Matt Koff & Friend Monday September 18th at 9pm with special guest Adam Wade! 

 

Tuesday September 12, 2017, 5:42pm - by Promo Team

Musical Megawatt performer Chris Bell bares all about his his upcoming show Comic Strips. With the help of his friends, Chris combines the styles of burlesque and game shows into a night of fun and laughter. This comedy boylesque show will make its Magnet Theater premiere Friday, September 15th, at 11:15pm.

What is Comic Strips and when did it become a show at the Magnet Theater?

Comic Strips is a comedy boylesque & game show. It’ll be a night of odd character stripteases and bawdy games hosted by the fabulous Madame Jiji. The night will really be an experiment of an idea I had years ago (more on this to come later) and is the show’s birthday so if you want to see how babies are made, come to the show!

 

Disclaimer: Actual babies will not be made at this show.

 

What kind of games will you be playing during Comic Strips?

There will be games of mystery and intrigue, exocitc games from the ancient tribes of South East Africa, but most importantly, there will be games that aren’t any of those just mentioned. The games we’ll play will be dumb, fun, and sexualy suggestive cause, hey, this is partly a burlesque show after all!

 

What inspired you to combine boylesque with comedy?

The idea came to me maybe 10 years ago when a good friend called me up and asked if I knew someone who would strip for her best friend’s birthday party…but dressed as a Hasidic Jew. I thought this was hilarious so naturally I had to do it. We all ended up having a blast and I wondered how it was possible that there wasn’t a NYC company out there offering this service. Funny character stripteases that is. Fast forward 10 years later; I’ve quit my job and I’m putting together a prototype of that company to see if the idea has legs. Comic Strips (this Friday night @ 11:15pm, be there) is the beginning of my frankenstein monster. Will it break loose and wreak havoc on the streets of New York? I hope so!

 

But you know, like a positive havoc.

 

Who would be your ideal guest for Comic Strips?

Darth Vader hands down, because wouldn’t it be fun to take a ride on the Dark side?

 

What does it mean for you to have a Friday night spot at the Magnet Theater?

It means a lot of work! #JesusBeAXanax

 

No, I’m very excited to be able to do this show at the Magnet. It’s a great community to be a part of and what better place to do an experimental show than at my favorite comedy safe space and no, I am not getting paid to say that.

 

(‘ll-Iay ick-pay p-uay he-tay eck-chay omorrow-tay.)

 

Besides boylesque and improv, have you performed in other types of shows?

My educational background is theater so in college I performed in several types of shows from dance shows to musicals to plays. I’ve done a few summer stock seasons of musicals as well as a year of children’s theater in Lexington Kentucky before I moved to NYC. I’ve been in New York for 10 years now and have produced, directed, and acted in various projects both for the stage and screen. A couple of random voiceover gigs too which were a blast including a recent video game you can find on Steam called The Low Road.

 

And now for the biggest confession of all, I’ve never actually performed burlesque so (prepare yourself for another shameless plug) come this Friday at 11:15 pm to see if I succeed or fail. Either way, it should be entertaining!

 

What do you want audience members to take away from the show – that they wouldn’t normally from a traditional improv/ sketch show?

I guess Comic Strips is celebration of the human body and sexuality. But most importantly, I want it to be a shit ton of fun. Not too different from any other comedy show right?

 

Comic Strips debuts at the Magnet Theater on Friday September 15 at 11:15pm. Don’t miss it! 

 

 

Tuesday September 5, 2017, 2:53pm - by evan barden

This month’s Director Series, “The Setup,” comes to us from the brilliant mind of Eleanor Lewis. Eleanor is most often seen on stage with Megawatt team Sexy Baby, but for the month of September, she’s sitting in the director’s chair, working with a special cast on a show of her own creation. We’ve interviewed her to find out more about the show and where her compass is pointing!

Tell us about the concept of The Setup. How did you come up with this idea?

First of all, thanks for having me. This studio is very comfortable and expensive-looking!

The Setup is an improvised one-act play where the audience designs the set – so, basically a monoscene with a theatrical style. A few months ago I was thinking a lot about my favorite improv shows and realized that the ones that stuck with me were always the ones that were either so funny they were unforgettable, or ones where the actors took their scenes seriously and took the time to explore the subtleties of their characters and relationships. The ones I still think about all the time have both – it’s something that a lot of really good duos have because they’re so patient and trusting with each other. They can be so silly and dumb, and then in the next breath extremely human and touching.I started thinking of ways to set up a show that encouraged this kind of improv, and the idea of giving the actors a designed set, just like in a real play, was the one that was the most interesting to me. I thought it would give the performers the sense that they could take their time and explore their world without giving them an explicit directive to form a narrative, or forcing them into being artificially dramatic.

Then I just had to pick a cast of strong actors who are also – and I hope they’re cool with me saying this – incredible weirdos. People who can do complete nonsense with gravity and a straight face, and love doing it.

How does the audience get to design the set for the show?

I wrote a web app. It’s very buggy, but the audience can use the app on a tablet out in the lobby to design the set. We take the tablet into the theater, set the stage, and nobody has to go through the awkwardness of dragging chairs around while everyone watches them. Technology can be isolating, and sometimes that’s a good thing!

How is improvising with a set different than working without one?

There’s a sense that everything is intentional, which is basically a trick, but a good trick. It puts you in the mindset of being in a play where everything exists on purpose. But, you still have the spontaneity of improv where the cast can surprise each other and themselves. Also, improv scenes demand that you answer a lot of questions – who are we? What are we doing together? Answering the question “what does this space look like, physically?” is unusual as the very first thing that happens.

Your show is an improvised one act play. What plays inspire you as an improv director?

I’m actually extremely ignorant and poorly-read when it comes to scripted theater, so my references are kind of limited. I think 12 Angry Men is a great play for clear and believable character behavior because each juror has such a clear perspective. I think it’s also a strong lesson for improvisers because the show wouldn’t work unless the jurors let themselves be convinced one by one. Even juror #3, who is never actually convinced, eventually goes along with a not-guilty verdict because he gets so worn down and upset. From an improv perspective, he follows the logic of his character all the way to the end but ultimately accepts the offer given to him even though it hurts and feels like a loss.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (the musical!!!!!) is great because the characters are all super smart and capable, but get into extremely stupid and absurd situations anyway. The show is so good because nobody seems to know that what they’re doing is funny or that they’re in a comedy at all, so you have things like a guy singing “love is my legs/ and you are my love/ so you are my legs/ my love” from the bottom of his heart while a woman holds back tears.

These are two of the three shows I know well and the third one is irrelevant to improv.

If you could do improv on the set of any play you’ve ever seen, what would it be and why?

I’d love to improvise on the set of Hamilton because that means I get to be all smug right now and say I saw Hamilton. You guys, it’s good! Also the set of Clybourne Park because there are so many sub-spaces to explore within it (the garden, all the upstairs rooms, the main foyer, etc) and because the set itself had so much personality.

The Setup is playing every Thursday night in September at 10 pm, as a part of Thursday Night Out. Don’t miss it!

Wednesday August 30, 2017, 12:54pm - by Megan Gray

Musical Megawatt - Musical Improv

We are excited to announce the next round of auditions for Musical Megawatt!

This season, auditions will take place on Saturday, September 23rd, 6:30pm to 10:30pm, with callbacks on Sunday, October 1st at the same time.  Both rounds of auditions will be at the Magnet Training Center, located at 22 West 32nd Street on the 10th Floor.

To submit for an audition time, please fill out THIS FORM! Please note only people who have completed Musical Level 3 at the Magnet are eligible to audition.

Submissions must be received by Wednesday, September 13th, and emails with assigned audition times will be sent out on Friday the 15th.

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to email Michael Lutton at mjlutton@gmail.com.

We look forward to seeing you at auditions!

Wednesday June 14, 2017, 6:30am - by Magnet Theater
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Musical improv maestro, ALI REED, joins host Louis Kornfeld on another episode of the Magnet Theater Podcast. The conversation hits a variety of topics including living in Kentucky, comparing sports to performing improv, and the pleasures of working with musical director Frank Spitznagel. We find out how Ali is able to balance her schedule as one of the busiest people in musical improv and learn about her ambitious plans for the future of the artform! Huzzah!

Catching us up on her life, Ali tells us that she has had a packed schedule for the past nine months and Louis refers to her as the busiest person in musical improv. They discuss momentum and how it can be helpful to have a full schedule.

In the beginning of the episode, Louis asks Ali about growing up in Kentucky. Doing her civic duty, Ali defines what bourbon is – explaining that if it’s not from Kentucky, it’s not bourbon – and we learn about the importance of Louisville basketball and how it was difficult for Ali to be a fan of their rival, University of Kentucky, while she was surrounded by Cardinal fans throughout college.

On the topic of sports, Ali compares being an athlete to being a performer and Louis imagines that playing sports would be similar to performing improv. Ali agrees but thinks that the subjectivity of performing makes it such that she’s harder on herself – adding that it’s easier when there is a win or a loss.

Ali and Louis take a trip down memory lane to talk about how Ali came to be the hardest working woman in musical improv. On the suggestion from an ex-boyfriend, who had had been taking UCB classes in LA, Ali went online to see if any classes were available. She saw that an improv 101 class has just started registering that night and signed up immediately. She and Louis discuss the solidarity of improv classes and Ali says that she is still friends with everyone from her improv 101 class!

Eventually, Ali found her way to musical improv. A friend of hers said that he was going to do a musical improv class at Magnet to which she replied, “Oh, hell yeah.” Since then, she has been bitten by the “Magnet bug.” Sharing her love with us, Ali teaches Louis about different strategies in musical improv. Louis compares it to regular improv and Ali discusses how performing musical improv is similar to putting on that album that you like while you’re in a certain mood – but it’s much more intense.

They talk about Magnet musical director Frank Spitznagel and his incredible knowledge of music, always able to seamlessly integrate various types of musical elements brought up by suggestions of a genre, television shows, specific musicals, etc. Ali talks about how lucky she feels to have had Frank as a teacher and to share the stage with him.

They explore the bravery that goes into musical improv and how Ali often forgets that it IS brave. She is reminded by it when people come up and tell her “Oh, I could never do that.”  They also talk about the benefits of being located in New York, in comparison to LA or Chicago, because of all of the Broadway folks who are willing to coming sing and perform in musical improv.

Diving further into the artform, Ali wants there to be a more authentic, truthful place for musical improv – instead of just songs about butts (which she also loves). When she teaches, she finds that taking the mundane scenes and heightening them can become the funniest and most touching songs. Louis concurs and mentions a musical improv show he saw that capitalized on those tiny “slice of life” scenes and ended up enhancing the characters’ emotions.

As the episode comes to an end, we learn about Ali’s dream for the future of musical improv. She lets us in on her ambitious plans – stating that she will build her own musical improv empire in New York City.

Monday March 13, 2017, 12:59pm - by Magnet Theater

Cast Lists for Magnet Theater’s 10-Minute Play Festival

The time is finally here for comedy and theater to come together for Magnet Theater’s 10-Minute Play Festival! We reviewed over 600 original play submissions and saw over 80 auditions, and are now so pleased to announce our incredibly talented cast and crew full of both Magnet veterans and shining new faces! Thanks to everyone who submitted and auditioned. This has been an incredibly exciting process and we can’t wait for everyone to see the final product!

Reserve your tickets NOW for the Magnet Theater 10-Minute Play Festival on March 19th and March 26th, 7:30pm!

“Pause” by Christopher Hastings. Directed by Branson Reese
Headmistress – Woody Fu
Terrence – Eli Itzkowitz
Lucky Strike – Devin O’Neill

“Goofus and Gallant” by Becca Schall. Directed by Elena Skopetos
Goofus- Rob Penty
Gallant – Cameran Hebb

“Transferring Kyle” by Jonathan Cook. Directed by Collin Batten
Kyle – Patrick Grizzard
Tina – Marie Denny
New Kyle – Johnathan Ross

“End of the Line” by Irene Ziegler. Directed by Kristina Grosspietsch
Reggie – Amanda Rothman
Bus Voice – Jennifer Anderson
Bobby – Teis Jorgensen

“Cool Chefs Jr. The Live Season Finale Spectacular Only On Fox” by Matt Cox. Directed by Evan Forde Barden
Chef Master Tom – Steven Meeker Jr.
Alex – Chloé Fulton
Sam – Nicole Adsit

Wednesday January 25, 2017, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater
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Actor, director, and Queen of Illinois, KRISTINA GROSSPIETSCH, joins us to talk about her time spent in France, why Freeze Tag sucks, and authenticity on stage. Growing up as a theater-obsessed child and ultimately landing in good old NYC, Kristina shares the story of how she got here and muses on improv, comedy, and interpersonal communication. See Kristina perform each week at Megawatt with Bodywork and listen to her talk with Louis right now!

Louis launches into this episode asking Kristina about her time spent teaching English in rural France. She tells of making up her teaching methods on the fly to see what stuck with her elementary school students. Kristina fondly recalls the ample idle time she enjoyed while living there and wonders if we really need everything New York has to offer, or if we’re better off with simply a good bar, a good friend, and a job to satisfy us?

Although raised outside of Chicago, Kristina did not take her first improv class until 2012 after landing back in NYC following her French sojourn. Growing up, it was all theater, baby! Kristina talks about her heavy involvement in the local musical theater scene around Chicago and then hits us with a HUGE takedown of the classic improv game Freeze Tag. (It’s warranted, folks!) She also admits to being an overachiever and how that has hampered her ability recognize exactly what she’ll be best at in art and life. Plus, Louis and Kristina attempt to answer the hard-hitting question: Can you avoid messing up your kids?

In the back half of the episode, we find out what convinced Kristina to ultimately give improv a try and she tells us about the experience of diving into a new artform. Louis taps into Kristina’s love of authenticity on stage and asks, given her Megawatt teams’ penchant for the theatrical, what has it been like to attempt authenticity within those heightened atmospheres? They also explore the observation that people with anxiety seem drawn to improv and Kristina and Louis have a major communication breakthrough of their own! To close out the episode, Louis spins a beautiful metaphor and Kristina talks about the Magnet Theater’s Very Own 10-Minute Play Festival, which she is producing, coming to you this March! (Submissions are open now!)

Tuesday January 3, 2017, 11:57am - by Magnet Theater

10-minute-play-fest-web-2

MAGNET THEATER’S VERY OWN 10-MINUTE PLAY FESTIVAL

If “write more” was your New Year’s Resolution — you’re in luck! We are looking for five original comedic plays to produce for our 10-Minute Play Festival, and submissions are now OPEN! Instructions and submission guidelines below.

Are you a sketch writer looking to try something new? A playwright looking for more exposure? A random internet user who stumbled across this page? Anyone and everyone is encouraged to submit. Please send us your best 10-minute play (seriously, no more than 10 minutes) and stay tuned for auditions at the end of February, as well as Magnet Theater’s Very Own 10-Minute Play Festival on March 19th and 26th!

 

HOW TO SUBMIT

  • Please include the following information in the body of the email (and keep answers short!): Name; What comedy theater you are associated with (if any); Whether you have an sketch or playwriting experience (it’s fine if the answer is no!); Why you wanted to be a part of Magnet Theater’s Very Own 10-Minute Play Festival.

  • Attach your play to the email as a PDF. This is important. We won’t read any other format.

 

Submission Guidelines/FAQs

  • Only one submission per person. Send us your best work!

  • The plays really do need to be under 10 minutes. That means no more than 11 pages, not including the cover page. We will not read past the 11th page.

  • We are looking for NEW plays! Please don’t send anything that has already been produced.

  • All submissions must be in by February 19th, 10:00 pm EST. Submissions will not be accepted or considered after this time.

  • Notifications of selection will go out a few days after submissions close.

  • All authors agree to permit the Magnet Theater to produce their submitted play if the theater should wish to do so. Authors retain copyright and full ownership of their plays.

  • Diversity applicants strongly encouraged to submit!

 

Don’t know what 10-Minute Play Festival is? Check out our last blog post for more info.

Tuesday December 6, 2016, 10:26am - by Magnet Theater

10-minute-play-fest-web-2

ANNOUNCING: The Magnet Theater’s Very Own 10-Minute Play Festival

Calling all playwrights and actors and anyone who has ever wanted to try playwriting and acting! Magnet Theater is proud to announce that in 2017, it will host its first 10-Minute Play Festival. The 10-Minute play is a distinctly American artform all about heart and words and barebones theater — concepts that have always had a home at the Magnet Theater.

Starting in January 2017, we will be calling for submissions of original, 10-minute comedic plays — so get cracking! Are you a sketch writer looking for a new challenge? Do you have a great story to tell? Is “writing more” one of your New Year’s resolutions? Now is your chance. Anyone and everyone is encouraged to submit!

A panel of Magnet community members will read the submissions and select a total of five plays, so get excited, because auditions for these plays will then be held at the end of February. Are you an improviser who wants to try some honest-to-goodness theater? Are you an actor looking for a new show? Is “doing one thing that scares you” one of your New Year’s resolutions? Now is your chance! (Well, the end of February will be your chance.) These auditions are open to anyone and everyone!

All of this will culminate in the debut performance of our five original shows at Magnet Theater’s Very Own 10-Minute Play Festival, Sunday March 19th and 26th, at 7:30pm! We are so excited to stretch our muscles a little bit, try something new, and showcase all the amazing talent the Magnet Theater has to offer!

FAQs
 
What is a 10-Minute Play?
A 10-minute play is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a One Act that is only 10 minutes long.
What makes a good 10-Minute play?
First of all, they have to be 10-minutes, so don’t submit anything over 11 pages. Be careful of too much exposition. A 10-minute play has to pack a lot into a short time. If we want to see a whole journey in under 10 minutes, clarity and economy are key. Make every line do work for you. To that end, keep tech fairly simply, and you usually wouldn’t see more than 4 characters (only 2 or 3 is even more common). Also, have fun! (There are tons of resources online if you’d like to do some research!)
What are the important dates?
Submissions for original plays will be open January – February 19th (though start writing now!) Auditions will be February 26 – 28. Show days will be March 19th and 26th at 7:30pm.
Can you submit if you’re not a part of the Magnet community?
You bet! Though slight preference will be given to members of the Magnet community.
Any further questions? Just email Magnet10minuteplayfestival@gmail.com. Diversity applicants strongly encouraged to apply!
Wednesday November 30, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater
Play

matt-alspaugh-podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Writer, actor, and director, MATT ALSPAUGH, swings by to talk with host Louis Kornfeld about teaching, how he got into the performing arts, and some tasty bits of NYC history. How did this kid who grew up playing baseball in Connecticut fall in love with theater and eventually find himself chasing comedy in New York City? We’ll find out! Matt also provides advice for sketch writers, actors, and show-runners. Plus! We ask Matt to perform a never-before-heard segment called “A Very Kind Scene With A Jar of Pickles.” Huzzah!

We open the episode discussing Matt’s time working at the Drama Book Shop, a local institution for actors, playwrights, and fans of theater alike. His years there allowed Matt to meet many wonderful people, read many great plays, and to be surrounded by theater. It also allowed him to do some couch-crashing, which talks about fondly. While back home after college, Matt was a substitute teacher, and he and Louis find themselves discussing how theater fits into the overall education experience. On the topic of staged pieces, our gents talk about the interplay between the audience and the performer and how performers must allow the audience to fill in some details for themselves. In order to allow yourself to act, you must not worry about convincing the audience of the reality. From all of this, Louis asks Matt about how he got into improv and sketch. Having worn so many different hats within Magnet’s sketch community, Matt provides advice for sketch actors, writers, and show-runners. What’s his favorite role? Find out!

For this episode, we to skip over “Getting To Know Each Other” and instead, Matt tells us about some interesting tidbits of New York City history – after all, he’s a licensed NYC tour guide! Oh baby! And finally, A Very Kind Scene Opposite A Jar Of Pickles, because we all need some kindness after the election.

matt-alspaugh-pickles