Saturday, August 23, 2008

We're &%$#!!! famous


We're famous, originally uploaded by tberrongkc.

Burnin' Sternums enjoy the Tantrum promo @ the library.

I liked the flier already, but as a poster in a quiet, stately place like the downtown library, it has even more impact. They've done a great job of positioning us as rowdy. 

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So tonight was going to be the night I saw some other folks improvise. But after sitting down and digging into the festival program, I realized I have ABSOLUTELY NO BUSINESS LEAVING MY SOFA until some serious work gets done. So tonight has been about the program. And some additional lists. And getting info out to the staff. 

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Sounds like the Star has been busily interviewing local improvisers. Clancy, Tina, Tim, John...everyone's getting the chance to weigh in with their take on the improv community.

The coolest thing—there's a lot of news. Guy took over a stage for the KC Improv Showcase at the Fringe Fest. Improv Thunderdome continues to go strong. ComedyCity moved to Westport. And more troupes are doing more shows in more theaters. And there's the festival—which, by lucky coincidence, synched up with the release of Jason's new movie. Sweet.

The article isn't happening because of the festival—or because any one person or troupe sent a press release or poked at a contact. The Star's Fall Preview is focusing on improv comedy because exciting things are happening. As is true with all of improv, the best work isn't done by an individual—it's the result of the group mind.

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Burnin' Sternums had our final all-group rehearsal today, and it felt great. Our piece is pretty ambitious for a pick-up game, and we're ready. Everything came together today. We ran it three times—and though it got progressively weirder—each set worked in its own way. One observation: We're, um, kind of a violent bunch. 

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Oh, and Tantrum had a show last night. With Spite and TBA. As always, it was a blast. 

Valissa Smith couldn't have been a better pick as our guest monologist. She's a terrific storyteller, did a great job with our request for tangents and was an absolute blast to play with.

Spite's set was fun. We strayed a little from our game plan and didn't vary as much in our edits as we'd typically like to do, but we had a great time together. It'll be great to have another show on tape to review; it's hard to figure out your patterns when you're in the middle of something. Random thoughts: 

  • I am not allowed to get trapped in a shirt again. Ever. 
  • I can still do a respectable backbend, motherfucker.
  • Response varies from improvisers who watch the show: Some think it's weird if we're not all on stage all the time, and some feel we could vary the rhythm more. 
  • Two things we could do: Play more "three-for-all" scenes (we tend to stick to 2-against-1) and try two-person scenes with an "innocent bystander"—someone who's in the scene, but clearly not part of the primary relationship. 

A Star photographer shot the show. My only request to her: Please make sure we look cute. 

The Tantrum set felt OK, but there are two things I feel like we have potential to improve: 

  • Thematic exploration of monologues. This is a tough one; if audiences don't think you're being literal enough with the suggestion, they feel hosed. So we have to figure out a way to establish how stretchy the continuum can be—how do we let the audience know that every now and then, the connection to the monologue may happen in the player's mind and lead to something completely different?
  • Taking care of the players as much are the idea. I think that—because we want to start our scenes with clear, up-front initiations that let each other know how we're tying into the monologue—we sometimes hesitate to cut a scene because we don't know what to do next. 
Dan Walsh will be our monologist for the festival show. Should be perfect.

5 comments:

  1. The Tantrum set felt OK? IMHO, it was stronger than either the Spite or TBA set... deeper and richer laughs all around and more playful.

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  2. Not really comparing it to the other two. I heard really nice things about it, and it was fun as hell to play. Which is why I said, "As always, it was a blast."

    I'm getting hung up on the feeling that it seemed a little thinky. Maybe it's just me, but I felt like I was focusing more on coming out with an idea or strong initiation than taking care of the players, and that never feels completely right to me.

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  3. Apples and oranges to me.

    The thing I noticed wasn't that people were waiting to cut, but that initiators were left alone on occasion...for what felt like 10 seconds but was probably 3. I noticed these pauses b/c I was just coming out of the last scene and didn't feel I should pop out again. Maybe I should've anyway.

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  4. YES! I noticed the same thing, and felt the same way.

    I think our shows are getting progressively better—richer, deeper, funnier—but that we're going to come up with new things to solve as we improve.

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  5. Thanks to Microsoft's autocorrect, everytime I see "improve" in an improv posting I have to re-read to make sure the word's right.

    Yeah, thanks a lot, BG.

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