Sunday, February 8, 2009

Better.

Last night was the first Corbin show that went completely according to the new plan.

OK, well, mostly.

We set the house theater-style instead of cabaret-style, since crowds have been growing. That worked—and the 48-person house looked packed. (The theater will hold up to about 80, so there’s room to grow.)

Bob teched—and man, what a difference. Even though it wasn’t a short-form show—so it didn’t call for sound effects or cutting with music every four minutes or so—having a pro in the booth was huge. He’s got an announcer’s voice and nailed all the cuts—even the edits for Exit 16 kids he’d never watched play.

I got to focus on running the house instead of running back and forth between house and tech. So I was less freaked out when kids were late for call (yeah, we’ll be bumping that back). And maybe not quite as freaked as I would have been otherwise when one of the girls split her head open on a gas meter and two of them headed off to the emergency room (in case there’s any confusion here, let me point out that the freaking was about the head wound, not the show—Bob helped out there, too, by checking the injury with a parent’s eye and sending them off).

With the Exit 16 cast down to three, Babel Fish jumped in and opened the show. Their new format—a version of The Movie—is going to kick some serious butt in Thunderdome. It’s the perfect piece for their new, expanded troupe. They got big laughs and kept the crowd completely engaged. Since a pretty significant part of our audience comes specifically to see their classmates, that’s saying something.

Our ambulance driver got back right before Exit 16 went on, and I couldn’t have been happier with their set. We did scenes instead of games for the first time—a piece we just started rehearsing in prep for the Chicago Teen Comedy Festival—and they attacked every one. They’re used to playing with 12, and they held strong as four.

Scriptease aka Fakers and now Mos Des Fights (insert tagline here) debuted a new piece—their take on the Event. They’d be the first to admit it has lots more potential, but taking general themes from an audience interview is going to be fun and play to their strengths.

None of the ideas that made this show better are new. When we ran Lighten UP, we had really tight control over the whole experience: the theater, concessions, pre-show, house and stage management, all of it. And there was a whole troupe to do it, so we took turns with all the non-stage jobs.

Because we ended up canceling shows regularly before we got the formula down, I’ve been hesitant to ask anyone extra to get involved. Aside from the performers, it didn’t even hit mom-n-pop operation status—just mom. Now I’m comfortable asking for a technical improviser because we can at least do token pay. It’s easier to invite a third troupe because we’re more sure we’ll have an audience for them to play to.

Oh, and, um.

So this Improvisation for the Spirit, book. I haven’t bailed. But chapter 2 requires some serious journaling, so I haven’t had a chance to do it yet. I’m still working on the being present thing, though, and can really see it making a difference. It’s cutting down on my tendency to worry and dwell on things. So, you know, that’s good.

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