Old Jugglers

A white-bearded fisherman was arranging his nets on a pier in the early morning, near an old juggler, who had shared the pier with him for years. He took a moment to watch the juggler throw a ball as high as she could into the air. It was windy, and they both noticed an interesting wobble in the ball that neither had ever seen before.

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An @InternationalWomensDay In The Life Of My Partner

Its #InternationalWomensDay, so I’m going to talk about what happens when @AdmiralAsthma and I do the same job, since we both direct improvised plays, and we’ve both been an obvious part of the Seattle improv scene for about the same time. This isn’t a “big deal” story, on its own, leading to any big conflict. It’s a very normal, every day sort of story.

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Little Red Riding Hood as told by Improvisers

Once upon a time there was a little girl who lived in a place. She lived with her mother, who had a funny voice and stirred a pot a lot. One day, her mother told her to be careful in the woods, because if she strayed from a path, a wolf might eat her. Before Red could reply, a wolf burst through the door. He strutted about, waving his funny tail, and telling everyone he was hungry. Suddenly, a woodsman burst in and chopped the wolf in the belly. Grandmother came jumping out of the wolf’s belly, and danced around joyfully. Little Red Riding Hood struggled to get downstage to say something witty but the lights came down and they lived happily ever after.

Les Miserables, Prufrock, and Imagery

I saw Les Miserables at Village Theatre opening night.

I had a good time, so let me say some good things first: The set is fantastic, and a lot of the performances were wonderful (I know Kate Jaeger, but don’t think its bias speaking when I say that she, Nick DeSantis and Victoria Ames Smith made for some of the strongest Les Miserables scenes I’ve ever seen staged). Everyone involved should be proud of the piece. Go see it, and you’ll almost certainly be impressed.

Ensemble performing Lovely Ladies. Les Misérables production photo. © 2013 Mark Kitaoka. Property of Village Theatre.
Ensemble performing Lovely Ladies. Les Misérables production photo. © 2013 Mark Kitaoka. Property of Village Theatre.

Here’s the rub : I spent the whole time marveling at the technical spectacles of the show. And that’s the problem.

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Gender, Storytelling and Culture

All this pitting of sex against sex, of quality against quality; all this claiming of superiority and imputing of inferiority belong to the private-school stage of human existence where there are sides, and it is necessary for one side to beat another side.  ~Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own, 1929

On Saturday, my improv group, NERDProv, performed at GeekGirlCon. We had a really fun show, got a lot of compliments, and all of us felt pretty good about the show. In notes, we realized that the show had been pretty heavy with males playing main characters. And then one of our members forwarded us a strong, well-expressed and fair piece of criticism from an audience member who walked out. It echoed some things we talked about in notes, so it really hit home.

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The Dark Forest Of SadProv

“Nothing is as poor and melancholy as an art that is interested in itself and not its subject.” –Santayana

Ever watched or performed in a vague, low-energy, hesitant, abstract scene that seemed like it might be about something important, if the audience could just keep their eyes open long enough to be sure?

Ever watched an improv showcase, and felt like the earlier classes were a lot more fun to watch than the more experienced students?

Ever ended a show with that feeling that it should have either been funnier or more meaningful, the cast divided, and everyone shrugging and not sure what to do about it?

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Improv Ensemble Auditions

Unexpected Productions auditioned about seventy people last weekend, and cast six improvisers to join the Seattle Theatresports ensemble. There are far more than six great improvisers in Seattle, and there are always a lot of disappointed people. Many of the people we can’t take are friends, supporters, students, and people we want to see on our stage: either down the road in Theatresports, or in other shows.

I’ve been on the other side of the fence. I was rejected in my first audition for Theatresports, in 2007, after waiting over a year to audition. I was a strong students, and many people told me they thought I had a great chance. It was a pretty big letdown, and while I stuck with it, I remember having a nervous two weeks waiting to hear, and another lousy two weeks after hearing “no”.

Anyway, I like to eavesdrop auditioners’ feedback about the process, as well as what people think about before and after auditions, and I thought I’d talk about some common misconceptions that I don’t think are helpful, now that I’ve seen the other side of the fence a few times. I’m going to talk about our ensemble, but I suspect much of this applies to most professional improv groups: at least those in cities where politics and “who-you-know” hold sway. All of this is my own, personal opinion, and doesn’t necessarily reflect the opinions of my theater.

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