Archive for the ‘Improv’ Category
At the February edition of The Griot Show, hosted by Alexis Lambright, Dahlia Ramsay told a wonderful story about a late-night Halal cart run, white allyship, and how improv lessons can be translated to real life. That story is transcribed below. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
Dahlia Ramsay from The Griot Show – February 13, 2017
So anywho, Imma tell you about my Friday night, last night. Cool? Awesome. So, I went out last Friday night and I stayed out way too late. Way later than I thought I would. And I knew it was gonna be some bullshit to get home. If anyone went out last Friday night you know that the trains were all messed up. So I said, “Let me get some halal first, for the ride.”
So, I go up to the halal cart. It’s the one on 1st and 1st in the East Village. And I go up to the halal cart, and I give the dude my order. And he’s a very nice man. Really clean cart. I definitely recommend it. The two other dudes there, these two Black dudes that were there. And we’re making small talk, and they’re trying to holler, and they’re lovely. And we’re just chatting all four of us. And then so after not too long, these three other girls walk up. These three Latin girls. And they are DRUNK. And hilarious, and adorable. And they’re up from Miami visiting. And the Black dudes, one was from New York, and one was from Houston. So we’re all just chatting. And they’re all drunk. I’m the only sober one. And we’re being ridiculous and bullshitting, and being loud, and the Halal guy is laughing.
And finally the dude from Houston asks the girls, “So where are you ladies from?” and one of them goes
“Nicaragua” (strong Spanish accent).
And he’s like “What?”
“NI-CA-RA-GUA! Say it!” She’s getting like… “Say my country!” [Laughter]
And he’s messing up, can’t say it. And she says “It’s in Latin America. Trump hates us too! Trump hates me!”
And the Black dude from New York is like “Nah nah nah nah nah, Trump hates ME. He hates us, alright? He been hating Black people. This Mexican thing is some new shit.”
And so, the conversation turns from like, bullshitting about bullshit, to bullshitting about politics. And finally after these people arguing about which group of people Trump hates more, the halal guy goes “Ah-hem,” clears throat, and points finger in the air, “Uh yea…I think I have you guys beat.”
And I fell out. I was laughing, I was dying, I was embarrassed. I was the only person there kinda outside seeing this go down and didn’t even occur to me either how ridiculous it was that we were arguing about this while homie was making our food, right there. So it got me thinking about The Griot Show, and solidarity more specifically, and allyship. And what that means.
‘Tis the season that we are honoring Black lives past and present. And honoring their stories, and complexities, and truths. And it occurred to me a while back, and it seemed appropriate for tonight, that there is a strand of stories that we don’t hear about. And I’m not talking about the Ida B. Wells or that one lady on the flyer for The Griot Show, where I was like “I don’t know who that is!” I’m talking about allies. White allies specifically. People of privilege. And how allies can become accomplices. And what that means and what that looks like.
I’m a pretty well-educated person. And here’s a bit of trivia. Can anyone name a white ally from the civil rights movement? Yes? One? Can we see if a non-host knows? You?
Audience: Bernie Sanders!
A: Shush! Is that what you were going to say?
A: Harriet Beecher Stowe?
Ohhhhh, no okay okay. History break, you guys. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin. So that was further back. But that’s a whole ‘nother story. Alright, I give this tour on NYC gospel, I’m a tour guide, so we could go into that because she’s a very interesting lady, and her whole family. But anyway Bernie Sanders is a good one. Anyone else? What were you going to say?
A: I was gonna say the two guys who were killed… James? Morgan?
Okay, see my point? Thank you. So we don’t know. And that I think is a detriment. It’s a detriment to the Civil Rights movement, it’s a detriment to all current movements now, particularly a detriment to any person of privilege or a white person who has no historical models for what allyship and solidarity looks like.
So, in this post-Barack Shock, that we’re living in. What does this all look like? And before I begin to attempt to answer that question, there’s a few things you should know about me. 1. I am currently in grad school in a program called Applied Theatre. And there’s a whole ‘nother story about what that is. [Applause] That means something!? Applied Theatre means something?? Oh my gosh. That’s good for me. I might get a job. And we’re reading–there’s a whole lot of reading in grad school–and the book we’re currently reading now is Theatre of the Oppressed, and it’s based on a book called Pedagogy of the Oppressed. In T.O.T.O. Augusto Boal says that participatory theatre in and of itself is not revolutionary, but it is rehearsal for the revolution.
Another thing you should know about me is I’ve been doing improv here at the Magnet community that I love so much for about three years. The Magnet is my valentine officially. I’ve never felt unsafe. It’s always been a very safe space for me. But I’ve been more concerned lately with how we can take our safe spaces and turn them into brave spaces. Turn them out, into brave spaces. More specifically, how we can use these muscles and reflexes that we spend hours honing and exercising that overall support community and having someone’s back and making decisions and having emotions and taking action.
And I know I’m not the first person to take improv principles and apply them to life. But I thought it would be worth–and I’m asking myself, and I’m asking you–how we can translate some of these action principles that we’ve learned in our classes to help guide us in moments when we are called to action. And obviously, that’s not always foolproof. We’ll mess up, like we do in scenes. Some of us know. But I made a little chart. Is it okay if I fuck around with a chart? Cool. So this is an infinite list of improv principles. The list isn’t infinite, but it goes on. And you can do this for yourself. So this is an exercise I did for myself. I’ll say some of these improv principles, and I’ll translate some, and others I won’t. And you can just like infer what that might mean for you. Okay?
– Don’t lean completely on your scene partner.
Translation: Don’t expect people of color or other oppressed people to do all the emotional and intellectual labor for you.
Okay? Okay! We’ll clap. We’ll clap after each one. This is a Louis Kornfeld one.
– It is better to disagree to agree than it is to agree to disagree.
To me what that means is if you just agree to disagree that’s like the most intellectually lazy thing you can do and it’s basically very dismissive. But! If you can disagree in order to agree, in that there is something that you’re moving towards then you’re actually engaging.
– Start in the middle of the scene
Don’t reinvent the wheel. We have a history. We are somewhere in the middle of that arc that supposedly leans towards justice, right? So, know your history. Start in the middle of the scene.
– Group games. If you don’t know a group game is you basically establish a pattern early on, and like a pattern of expectation, but often in a group game, at some point that expectation is broken or subverted.
Translation: Systems of oppression can be broken.
– Beware of ironic indifference and apathy. If you’re an improviser you know this kind of tends to just kill a scene.
Translation: Silence is violence
– A character is someone who’s not you.
I’ll leave that one there.
– Check in with your scene partner at the top of the scene.
– What matters most is how we affect each other.
– Emotion drives the action
– If you’re standing on the sidelines and thinking “Uh, I’m glad I’m not out there”… get out there.
So if you’re someone who hasn’t done improv before but you’re curious about it, this gives you a little insight into what I do and why I love it. And I totally invite you to take the free class that Magnet offers. If you’re a veteran improviser and a person of privilege, and you’re thinking to yourself, “I don’t know what to do or how to be in this world these days…” you DO. It just takes a little translation.
Transcribed by Francesca Hays.
Welcome to Magnet’s “Getting To Know” series! We’re using our blog to highlight our fabulous performers and writers and we can’t wait for you to meet them. Want to see them all? Click here.
What’s your name?
Which team or show are you on?
Trouble Town (two words)
Where are you from?
Los Angeles & Boca Raton
How did you get into improv/sketch comedy?
Lane Kwederis is one of my best friends from high school; she’s super funny and strange and she was doing it and I always do what Lane does
How long have you been performing/writing?
I’ve been entertaining the masses since the age of four but I’m hoping to learn some other more practical skills soon…
Who in all the world would be your ideal scene or writing partner?
Gilda Radner. Well… Gilda and Ethel Merman
Who would you most like to impersonate or write for?
Chuck Norris or Louis Armstrong
What makes you laugh the hardest?
Fart jokes, cliché, I know, but they still get me every time. Booger jokes are a close 2nd
Describe the soundtrack to your life!
“Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba” which translates to “here comes a lion, Father” 🦁
What’s something you’d ask when meeting someone for the first time?
I’d ask them, “how do you feel about physical contact? And, can I hug you?”
Where can we find you on a Saturday night?
With Knuckles, my fish. I’ll send you guys a picture of him. He’s the best (we’re in our honeymoon phase, still)
Musical Megawatt teams will perform afterward, with shows at 7, 8, 9, and 10. We hope to see you there!
Congrats to all of our new Winter 2017 Circuit teams! Shows start TONIGHT at 10pm and run every Friday through March 24th at the Magnet Theater Training Center. Huzzah!
Coach: Patrick May
Coach: Henry Russell Bergstein
Coach: Nolan Constantino
Coach: Katie Mordhorst
Coach: Amanda Mayer
The Magnet Theater is pleased to announce the new teams and additions for the Fall 2016 season of Megawatt, debuting next Wednesday, September 21st, at 7pm, 8pm, 9pm and 10:15pm. We hope to see you there.
Names in bold are new to Megawatt. Names with an asterisk* are returning to Megawatt. Names in italics are joining a preexisting team.
New Team SUN
New Team MOON
SUNDAY (4/10, 9pm) – Magnet Theater is thrilled to announce a special edition of its weekly show, ‘Kornfeld and Andrews,’ featuring IRA GLASS (This American Life). This Sunday, Glass will sit in with the distinguished improv duo to help kick off a week-long celebration of the Magnet’s 11th Anniversary. This special show will take place at the Magnet Theater Mainstage – 254 W 29th St, New York, NY.
American radio personality Ira Glass is the creator, host and executive producer of the award-winning public radio show ‘This American Life’ as well as the editorial advisor of the chart-smashing podcast ‘Serial.’ With numerous other projects to his name, this is not Glass’ first foray into comedy — he previously worked alongside comedian Mike Birbiglia on his 2012 film ‘Sleepwalk With Me,’ which Glass co-wrote and produced.
Stand-out improv duo ‘Kornfeld and Andrews’ has been a critics pick in the New York Times and one of the most consistently hilarious shows in NYC. Rick Andrews and Louis Kornfeld have performed and taught improv all over the continent at The Chicago Improv Festival, Vancouver International Improv Festival, North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival and dozens more. Louis and Rick have performed in a litany of highly respected and heralded shows at the Magnet, including Kiss Punch Poem (“a rare find… uproarious and heartfelt.” –Time Out) and The Weave (“Weekly Best Of” –Splitsider). Rick is head of Magnet’s Education department, while Louis directs multiple shows at the Theater.
Tickets will go on sale Wednesday (4/6) at 12pm EST.
Link to show page: http://www.magnettheater.com/shows/47065-Kornfeld-&-Andrews
New Team Creedence
Laura Yoder Witt
New Team Clearwater
New Team Revival
Von Decarlo Brown
John de Guzman
The Magnet Theater is pleased to announce the new teams and additions for the Spring 2016 season of Megawatt, debuting this Wednesday, March 16th at 7pm, 8pm, 9pm and 10:15pm. We hope to see you there.
New Team TROY
New Team ATHENS
New Team ITHACA
New Team SPARTA
Working on a show? Want to put it up?
The Magnet Theater is proud to present a new show coming in April — Show-Offs! Starting Sunday, April 10th, 6pm.
Show-Offs features brand new scripted works never before seen on the Magnet stage, from sketch, one-person shows, and more. All shows must be 20 – 25 minutes in length. The submission deadline is Tuesday, March 8th, noon. If selected, you will be notified by Friday, March 25th.
Show-Offs is open to all. To submit a scripted show, click here.
All morning operations at the Training Center are canceled for today, Sunday, Jan. 24th.
THERE WILL BE NO 12P CLASSES. We’ll keep you posted about the rest of the day.